January through July 2007 are the best months to view Saturn this year. The Earth and sun passed through Saturn's ring plane in 1995 and 1996, providing a nearly edge-on view of the rings. The ring tilt increased (opened wider) year by year to a maximum tilt of 27 degrees in early 2003. The tilt of the rings has been decreasing since 2003. The ring tilt decreases (closes slightly) each year until 2009, when we'll again see an edge-on, or nearly invisible view of the rings. This years' ring tilt angle varies from 15.4 degrees down to 6.7 degrees. Saturn is brighter this year than it will be until 2015 due to slight dimming as the ring tilt becomes more narrow and Saturn's distance from Earth increases. The image of Saturn, taken at 2006 opposition, shows the bright zones and dark belts of Saturn's atmosphere. The dark Cassini division bisects the outer A ring and middle B ring. The subtle inner C ring is visible where it appears in front and center of the planet itself.
For more month by month details and to learn more about some of the other unique observations for 2007 visit the Saturn Observation Campaign.
Last Updated: 24 February 2011