Astronomical Event May, 2014: Saturn Reaches Opposition on May 10; When and How to Best View it? Plus Other Celestial Bodies to Watch Out for in May Sky

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By jaskiran kaur | May 6, 2014 6:02 PM EST

In May, 2014, skywatchers can take a view of the ringed planet Saturn. In one of the most spectacular astronomical events of May, 2014, planet Saturn will come closest to the Earth.

On May 10, 2014, planet Saturn reaches opposition. Universe Today explains that on this day when the Sun will set in the West, Saturn will "rise" in the opposite direction, that is, in the east. According to the report, for the year 2014, Saturn figures in the constellation called Libra. It will be at closest possible distance on this day. Thus it will outshine other stars and skygazers won't find it difficult to spot it.

Timescall.com notes that the best time to view the planet is "around midnight along the central north/south meridian."

At this point, Saturn's rings will be tilted 22 degrees to our line of sight. Because of this, the planet will have enhanced brightness to the naked eye and it will be fully "illuminated." Saturn is known for its beautiful rings which will continue to widen until 2017 when it will reach maximum of 25 degrees.

SkyandTelescope.com notes how one can view the planet on the day said astronomical event. To view Saturn one doesn't need a large telescope to locate Saturn. A telescope with an aperture of 60mm (2.4 inches) can be used to view the beautiful rings of the planet. Also, the planet has 62 personal satellites. The Web site notes that its largest moon Titan can be viewed with the same 60mm telescope. To view other moons like lapetus, Dione, Rhea, Tethys, one would need 4-6 inches telescope and to view Enceladus, a 10-inch telescope will serve the purpose.  

Saturn is not the only planet that skygazers can enjoy in the May Sky. Planets Jupiter and Mars have been quite observable for some time now. Joining other celestial bodies towards the end of this month will be Mercury. Venus is the fifth planet that can be seen shining in May, 2014 sky.

Space.com has presented a timeline of when to best view these five planets in the month of May. The Web site notes on May 5 and May 6, skywatchers could witness Jupiter and the moon shinning together. As mentioned above, May 10 will mark Saturn's opposition in one of the most stunning astronomical events of May, 2014. On May 11, Mars can be seen in south-southeast in early evening hours. On May 25, Venus can be viewed. Before dawn on this day, it will appear "low in eastern sky about 45 minutes to an hour before sunrise," notes the Web site. Same date will mark, Mercury's "best evening apparition" for the year. Skygazers can locate the planet in the west-northwest direction, an hour after sunset.

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