UAE: Do you want to see planet Saturn in the sky? You don’t need a fancy binocular or a big telescope to see it. You can see it instead with the naked eye.
Just step out of your house, stand in the balcony where you can get a clear view of the sky or better get out into the streets and look up towards west.
How is this possible?
Saturn is closest to Earth at the moment and therefore, now is the best time to catch the beautiful ringed planet.
According to Nazar Hezam Salam, member of Arab astronomer and space science, Saturn will be visible to the naked eye until September, as it is closest to Earth. "The rings of Saturn are shining bright this month, " said Salam.
How to spot Saturn
“Saturn is in opposition with the Sun. This means Saturn will rise in the east just after the sun sets in the west. In fact ten minutes after the sun sets in the west, you will see Saturn rising. When Saturn is in opposition to the Sun, it is the best time for Earthlings to spot the gas giant in the sky,” said Salam.
“The gas giant can be spotted in the ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius constellation with the naked eye. However if you want to see its magnificient rings, it is best to invest in a 60mm telescope with a 4x magnifying lens,” explained Salam, adding Saturn is visible through the night.
Salam said there is an interesting celestial phenomenon taking place in the skies on Tuesday (July 16) night. “Besides the fact that Saturn, Earth and Sun are all falling in one straight line, on July 16, the UAE will also witness a partial lunar eclipse.”
“We will see a full moon ‘scraping by Saturn’. In South America people will be able to see the moon pass directly in front of Saturn,” said Salam, adding that this exciting celestial event is falling on the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission.
Those living in Abu Dhabi can be witness to this celestial phenomenon at Corniche where Salam is setting up his mobile observatory truck.
"I have a massive telescope inside my mobile truck from where people can view Saturn and the lunar eclipse. Additionally I will be setting up four telescopes outside the truck for more people to witness the phenomenon. People can also spot the brightest spot in the sky, the planet Jupiter", Salam said.
Did you know?
Five planets are visible to the naked eye without a telescope – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. “This is possible because all of them move with seven degrees of ecliptic. When they are closest to the Earth, is when you see them clearly from the naked eye,” he said.
No problem watching lunar eclipse tomorrow
According to the Dubai Astronomy Group CEO Hasan Al Hariri, the partial lunar eclipse visible from UAE will last for over five hours.
He said it is not dangerous to look directly at the moon during a lunar eclipse because the moon is not giving off its own light. He cautioned however those who plan to observe the eclipse outdoors to stay hydrated and be mindful of their body temperature.
According to Salam the next partial lunar eclipse will be visible from UAE on May 2022.