Several planets in the solar system are called "naked eye" planets because they can be viewed without the use of binoculars or telescopes. Saturn is one such planet. However, finding Saturn without the use of a night sky map or a telescope is a hard task. But by locating a few reference points in a clear night sky during the right time of the year, you can easily find the planet.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Telescope or binoculars (optional)
Find an area unobstructed by tree branches or the tops of buildings. You may want to locate a hill top to view the night sky with more clarity.
Use a telescope, binoculars or your own naked eyes to view Saturn. The best moments to view Saturn vary from year to year, but you can use these tools to see more of the planet's details, such as its bright rings or even its moons. With the naked eye you can still see Saturn, but it will be far less distinguishable without a telescope or binoculars.
Go to the AstroViewer website (see Resources). Enter your city in the search bar on the left hand side of the window to see what the night sky looks like where you live. You will be able to look through the map and try to spot Saturn. If you see it in the map, you will most likely be able to see it in the sky on a clear night. If you do not see Saturn on the map, you might have to wait to view the planet at a later time.
Pick out the constellations near to Saturn on the map. These will be your points of reference to find Saturn in the night sky. You will either need to print out the map or draw out what the nearby constellations look like.
Go outside with any tools you want to use (binoculars or telescope) and look to the sky for the reference point constellations. Once you have connected the dots to produce the nearby constellation in the sky, search for a bright source of unblinking light that is pale yellow in colour. Saturn will be harder to spot than most of the "naked eye" planets, according to NTL World, so a telescope will definitely help in your search.
Tips and warnings
- Study the constellations to more quickly find Saturn according to the map produced on the AstroViewer website.
- You may not be able to view Saturn's rings, as this is dependent on the position of Saturn in relation to Earth.
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