Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saturn Opposition 2014

The best time to observe/photograph Saturn this year is this weekend 10/11 May 2014.

Saturn will be in opposition - Saturn, Earth, Sun forming an imaginary straight line with Earth in the middle. Thus, the distance between Earth and Saturn will be short and this means Saturn will look bigger in the same size telescope compared to other days in 2014!

If you miss observing Saturn this weekend, do not worry. It will not suddenly shrink into a very small apparent size overnight. It will very gradually become smaller. So you can continue to observe/photograph it for many more weeks on any clear enough night.

How to find Saturn in Singapore?

(1) Use a free smart phone app - Sky Map (Google Android) or Planets (Apple iOS).

(2) Use the most sophisticated computer in the whole universe - your vision system and brain!

Look at the following illustration of the sky at 8pm facing East (east-southeast to be exact).

Step 1 - Locate Mars and Spice in the sky. They look like a pair of bright "stars" in the sky. Mars look like a red or bright orangy "star". Spica, a white star.

Step 2 - From Mars to Spica, imagine and extend the same distance about 2 times. You should see another bright "star" nearby - Saturn! You can use your fingertips to do this rough estimation of distance.

For those who are curious about how to process and photoshop Saturn from a captured raw video, this is a nice YouTube tutorial by Caleb Piercy:

Weather permitting, my friends and I will be deploying our telescopes for free public viewing at Bishan Park McDonald's. From 7:45pm till late. So come see Saturn (and Moon, Jupiter, Mars too!).

You may bring your Mother along and let her enjoy a very special Mother's Day weekend!

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