On May 10, Saturn was biggest and brightest for 2014. I’ve been photographing the ringed planet through my telescope since 2011, and its appearance has changed substantially since then!
You can see that the quality of the images has improved over the years as my equipment and technique has evolved. You can also see how the rings are more “open” now than they were in 2011.
The Tilt of Saturn
Like Earth, Saturn’s axis is tipped. This allows us to catch a different view of the planet’s ring system as Saturn moves around the Sun. In 2009, the rings appeared extremely thin (and seemed to disappear altogether in small telescopes) because we were looking at them “edge-on” from Earth. In 2017, the rings will be very “open” to us.
If you want to have a look at Saturn for yourself in May, it’s visible to the naked eye. Look for a moderately bright, non-twinkling star in the Southeast after sunset. You can also read an in-depth guide to Saturn’s 2014 appearance by David Dickinson over at Universe Today.
If you want to see more of my Saturn (and other astronomy) photos, please visit my Flickr page!