Binocular Observing: Saturn

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Named after the Roman god of wealth and agriculture, Saturn’s reputation has varied dramatically across cultures, being associated with extreme abundance and misfortune alike. Fortunately, antiquated notions of astrology have largely been dispensed with, and Saturn now enjoys its place as one of the jewels of the night sky, resplendent with its beautiful expansive ice rings.

Features

Saturn shines with a beautiful golden colour, and binoculars can highlight this. Its rings can’t be resolved by binoculars with a magnification less than 50x. However, Saturn’s size makes it a rewarding target –  in smaller binoculars, one can make out an oval shape, a distortion caused by the width of its rings.

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is sometimes visible through binoculars. If you’re aiming to see Titan, ensure that you are properly dark adapted, and consider using a tripod to steady your binoculars.

Observing times

Depending on where Saturn is in its orbit around the Sun, it appears at different times in the night sky. Check timeanddate.com/astronomy/night/ to see when it rises and sets, and the best times to view it.


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Dark Adaptation

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Neha

    Hey Sam!
    Love your blog! What binoculars do you use for viewing far flung planets? I’m looking to invest in a good one.
    Thanks,
    Neha

    1. Sam

      Hi Neha, thanks so much!!

      To start with I’d recommend a 10×50 or 12×50 pair – you can see almost all the planets with the right viewing conditions. I wrote a post about choosing binoculars here: https://thebast.co/2017/10/17/choosing-your-binoculars/ . It’s a bit dense, but there are recommendations right at the bottom in case you want to skip to them 🙂 Xx

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