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May 30, 2016 - Bring the Rings

Bring the Rings  This Friday, June 3, Saturn will be at opposition, positioned linearly on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. The ringed planet will be 1.35 billion km (838 million mi) away at the time, but it will still appear relatively bright, reaching an apparent magnitude of 0.1 in the constellation Ophiuchus. Saturn is now moving into its northern summer along the course of its 29.5-year-long orbit, and so its “upper” hemisphere is currently tilted toward the Sun and toward Earth. With even a small telescope Saturn’s rings can be seen, angled in much the same way as they are in the Hubble image above (although this view shows the planet’s southern hemisphere as it appeared from Earth in March 2003). Saturn’s northern summer solstice, when its rings appear most tilted, will occur in May 2017.

Image credit: NASA / ESA / E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona)

Weekly Calendar

May 30 - June 5, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 30

Memorial Day

Mars closest approach to Earth

1934: Alexi Leonov born
1966: Surveyor 1 launched
1971: Mariner 9 probe launched

Moon phase Tuesday 31

1975: European Space Agency formed
1990: Kristall module launched to Mir space station
2008: STS-124 Discovery launched

Moon phase Wednesday 1

Uranus 2° north of Moon

Moon phase Thursday 2

1930: Charles “Pete” Conrad born
1966: Surveyor 1 lands on Moon
1970: First glide test of M2-F3 lifting body
1998: STS-91 Discovery launched
2003: Mars Express / Beagle 2 launched

Moon phase Friday 3

Saturn at opposition
Moon at perigee
Mercury 0.7° north of Moon

1948: 200-inch Hale telescope dedicated
: Gemini IV launched; Ed White takes America’s first space walk
: Gemini IX launched

Moon phase Saturday 4

New Moon 11:00 PM ET

1971: Last X-24A lifting body flight
1974: Construction begins on space shuttle Enterprise
2000: Compton Gamma Ray Observatory reenters atmosphere

Moon phase Sunday 5

Mercury at greatest elongation (24° W)

1819: John Couch Adams born
1989: Voyager 2 begins regular observations of Neptune
1991: STS-40 Columbia launched
2002: STS-111 Endeavour launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.