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Saturn is at its ‘brightest best.’ When to see it in July’s night sky

Explore the Cassini Mission’s last looks at Saturn

Take a look at the final images taken by the NASA Cassini spacecraft before it took its final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15. Cassini circled Saturn for 13 years before its mission came to a close.
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Take a look at the final images taken by the NASA Cassini spacecraft before it took its final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15. Cassini circled Saturn for 13 years before its mission came to a close.

If you’re stargazing this month, you might notice that Saturn is a little brighter than usual.

On July 9, Saturn will reach opposition, which means it will be “directly opposite to the sun from Earth’s perspective,” at its closest point to Earth and in full sunlight, according to National Geographic.

The planet — the second-largest in the solar system — will shine “at its brightest best in the Earth’s sky,” according to EarthSky.org.

Saturn’s rings won’t be visible to the naked eye, but if you peer at the planet using a telescope, “the rings will seem to surge in brightness,” due to the sunlight, National Geographic said.

If you’re looking for the ringed planet, it’ll be close to the southeast horizon, according to EarthSky. At opposition, the planet will rise as the sun sets, and will generally rise around that time for the rest of the month.

Just a few days later, on July 16 and 17, Saturn and the full moon will make a stunning pair in the sky, according to Space.com.

On the night of July 15, stargazers in the Southern Hemisphere may be able to see the moon cover Saturn — but you’d have to be “in just the right spot,” according to EarthSky.

The planet is at its brightest until July 22, according to Space.com.

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Gabby Ferreira is a breaking news and general assignment reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. A native of Houston, Texas, she was a reporter in Tucson, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Palm Springs, California, before moving to San Luis Obispo County in 2016.
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