Ringed Saturn appears in the southwestern sky after sunset, and continues to shine until late in the evening.
Opposition from the Sun occurred during the night of 2016 JUN 02-03 when Saturn was out all night. Brightness for this apparition was expected to reach a sharp peak around the time of opposition at magnitude +0.0 (similar to Arcturus or Vega) due to the lack of visible shadowing by ring particles upon each other. At that time Saturn was in the constellation Ophiuchus at a declination of 20.6° south of the celestial equator. Its north pole was tilted by 26.1° toward Earth. Its ring plane was similarly tilted. Closest approach to Earth of 9.0149 AU occurred near the opposition when Saturn subtended an equatorial angular diameter of 18.4 arcseconds.
Apparent direct motion in right ascension resumed on 2016 AUG 13. Eastern quadrature was reached on SEP 01 before conjunction behind the Sun on DEC 10.
Saturn will appear near other bright planets and stars on the following dates: Venus 2016 OCT 29, Mercury NOV 23.
The Moon will appear near Saturn on 2016 OCT 06, NOV 02, NOV 30. There will be no lunar occultations of Saturn during this apparition.
NOTE: Events in this article are for North American Central Time.
* A meridian transit occurs when a celestial body crosses an observer’s local north-south line in the sky. That is practically simultaneous with culmination, i.e. the highest altitude for the day. The Saturn meridian transit times in the above linked graph can be easily transformed for your location. The given times are nearly the same for the central meridians of all time zones, i.e. those evenly divisible by 15° such as 75°, 90°, 105° or 120°. Do not adjust to UT. Simply add to the chart time 4 minutes for each degree west of a central meridian, or subtract 4 minutes for each degree to the east. If on daylight savings time, add an hour.