Sky Watch: Saturn in Opposition


So, to get the Saturn juices flowing for this post, I decided to Google poetry about Saturn (yes, I’m a poetry geek). This was literally the first thing I read and it stopped me dead. The emotion, the word flow, the imagery, the heat – daaaaayum, Jalisa! Well done, love.
 
Genesis and Revelation
By: Jalisa Allycia
 
"If you ask me, he lit the match that set the Moon on fire 
It’s not a myth; I was there, when I had no home
And I walked in Saturn’s ring rain for so long it sloughed off my skin
I marched, trying to flatten the crater I’d made
Because I was ashamed of it
I was the last meteor to hit his heart; the loudest
But that was so long ago
The quietest revolutions are usually the most violent
If you ask him, I smelled like Genesis and Revelation from the inside
Fucking insatiable
I slathered honey on my cheeks and boiled my blood
so hot until my arteries turned charred black
I licked my wounds from the impact and discovered just what the hell was poisoning me

If you ask me, I didn’t know him last night and I won’t know him on the last night
But my God, he inspires me"
 
Rings of Saturn Necklace with Natural Stone - Limited Edition Celestial Handmade Jewelry by Yugen Tribe - Gold Planet Necklace 
But on to what this post is truly about…which is that Saturn is in opposition starting today! At 1 p.m. EST to be precise. What does this mean? Well, much like Jupiter’s post last month, the Earth’s orbit will sling us between Saturn and the Sun; so, The Ringed Planet will be hella close – well, like only 839,472 million miles/1,351 million kilometers (or a wee 75 light-minutes!) away. Or 149,905,714 round trips from Washington D.C. to San Francisco, California. Pfffffft.
Saturn, named after the Roman god of agriculture, has rings of ice – yes, ice! How is this possible, you ask in wonder? Science, yo! Billions of pieces of ice, space dust and rocks, ranging from the size of a grain of sand to the size of a school bus, create the composition that keeps the rings a’ ringin’. Sorry, sometimes I just can’t help myself.
Rings of Saturn taken by the Cassini space craft
Rings of Saturn image taken by the Cassini space craft
These bits and pieces are thought to be parts of comets, asteroids and even moons that were torn apart by the colossal gravity of the planet before they could even reach the surface – which is more of a nebulous (wink-wink) term due to the surface being predominantly composed of hydrogen and helium. We are also unsure if Saturn has a solid core. Oh, the gassy mystery. In fact, it has only been visited four times by spacecraft, the last being Cassini in 2004, when we finally nailed down some solid photos of the rings and moons hanging around our fifth planet from the sun.
Being chiefly composed of gas has its weight loss pros. Saturn is actually less dense than water, so if you were to find a lake large enough to let Saturn take a dip, it would likely float like an apple on the surface. 62 moons have been discovered orbiting the planet, and as we have all recently heard (huzzah!), NASA is said to be putting together a mission to Titan with a drone called Dragonfly. They are hoping to set the mission into motion in 2026 with a touch down in 2034. Yay, something to look forward to in my 50’s!
Double Sided Moons of the Solar System Necklace - Europa, Ganymede, Io, Callisto, Titan, Triton, Moon - Celestial Outer Space Jewelry Handmade by Yugen Tribe
(Titan is a favorite in our studio, and is the centerpiece of our double sided Moons of the Solar System necklace!)
Quickly spinning Saturn has whirled itself into an oblate spheroid – not to be confused with a similar sounding something I’ll probably also experience in my 50’s – and its equator is bulging around the belly (they just keep coming!). There is a general scientific consensus that one day on Saturn is about 10 hours, 32 minutes and 35 seconds. So, the average amount of sleep that’s recommended for me.
Saturn will spend the remainder of the year chillin’ in the constellation of Sagittarius, The Archer. Fun Fact: This puts the planet hanging out to the upper left of the asterism widely known as “The Teapot” in the evenings now until December 28th. Today it will be in opposition to the Sun; and it’s currently in its brightest stage until the 22nd of this month. On the night of July 16-17th, the full moon will creep closely below Saturn – so look up!
xo
Brittany

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