Look up this month: Saturn reaches opposition in mid-June, rings visible through a telescope

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - June provides a few spectacular star-gazing opportunities, especially for night owls who like to stay up past midnight. Be sure to grab a telescope in order to see the best details in the sky!

Jupiter and Saturn in the sky together

(Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Both Jupiter and Saturn will appear in the night sky together, mainly after sunset when Saturn rises above the horizon. Don't wait too long to view both planets: Jupiter will set around 3 a.m. for the first half of the month, and around 1am for the second half of June.

Through binoculars, Jupiter's four Galilean moons-Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto-are easy to see.

Saturn opposition: Opportunity to spot Titan and Saturn's rings

Saturn will reach opposition on June 15. At this time, Saturn, Earth and the sun will all be in a straight line, with Earth in the middle.

(Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

The opposition will provide the best -- and closest -- views of Saturn as well as several of its brightest moons, including Titan.

Titan is 50% larger than our own moon. It orbits Saturn about every 16 Earth days. In contrast, our moon takes 27.3 days to orbit Earth.

If you look through a telescope, you'll be able to compare the cloud bands on both Saturn and Jupiter.

(Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Saturn's cloud bands are fainter than the bands of Jupiter. On Saturn, you'll see delicate shades of cream and butterscotch, while Jupiter's bands are shades of white, rust and pale-brownish yellow.

Saturn's rings will also be visible through a telescope, and this month, the rings will be tilted as wide as possible towards Earth -- about 26.2 degrees.

(Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Sunlight reflecting off of the rings will make them look even brighter, allowing a more distinct viewing of the Cassini division, which is the darker band that is located in the middle of Saturn's rings.


Information from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory was used in this report.