Saturn and Earth will be closest to each other in a year on Monday and people in those parts of the world witnessing nighttime will be able to see the ringed planet. Nasa has said early Monday morning will be a prime viewing time. "Saturn is directly opposite the sun from Earth on this date. Around the time of opposition it's visible all night, reaching its highest point around midnight," the American space agency said.
Dr Subhendu Pattnaik, the deputy director of Pathani Samanta Planetarium, told news agency ANI that Saturn and Earth will be closest to each other at 11.30am Indian Standard Time (IST). "It will be daytime in India but wherever there is nighttime, people will see a bright Saturn," Pattnaik said.
Saturn will appear bright even with the naked eye and it can be seen throughout the night in August. "A few satellites of Saturn can also be seen with a small telescope," Pattnaik said.
Pattnaik said it takes Earth about 365 days to orbit the sun and Saturn takes around 29.5 years for completing one full revolution of our star. The last time Saturn and Earth came close was on July 20, 2020, and will do so again on August 14 next year.
"Once every year, Earth and Saturn come close to each other while revolving in their orbital path. In a time span of 1 year and 13 days they come closest to each other," Pattnaik said.
"When they are very close to each other, the average distance will be around 120 crores kilometres, which is 50 crore kilometres less in comparison to the maximum distance between them, which happens after 6 months when Saturn will be across the other side of the Earth," he added.