Solar System Phenomena — Saturn in 2019

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The upper chart shows the path of Saturn across the background stars over the course of the year. Stars to magnitude +8.5 are shown. The white circles represent the planet on the first day of the month and are scaled according to apparent magnitude. The faint paths before the first circle and after the last circle represent the planet's positions in December of last year and January of next. In general, the planet moves from right to left except when it's in retrograde and proceding in the opposite direction.

The lower chart shows how the appearance of Saturn changes over the year. Below each image is listed the date, the apparent magnitude, the apparent diameter of the disk (in arc-seconds), the geocentric distance (in au) and the opening angle of the rings. Note that the tilt of Saturn's rings varies subtly throughout the year.

The ringed planet spends the entirety of 2019 in the crowded star fields of the constellation Sagittarius, criss-crossing a section of sky between the 'Teaspoon' and 'Teapot' asterisms. Its southerly declination makes it a more difficult observing target for observers in northern temperate latitudes than for those in equatorial and southern regions on Earth. At conjunction at the beginning of the year, Saturn is lost in the glare of the Sun in January but eventually distances itself from our star and can be seen from February onwards. It reaches its brightest magnitude at opposition in July. An evening sky object for the second half of the year, Saturn is lost to view by the end of 2019 as it approaches its next conjunction early next year. Saturn undergoes a series of lunar occultations this year, mostly visible from the southern hemisphere, beginning in January (although the first one isn't visible as the planet is too close to the Sun) and ending in November.

01 Januarymaximum ring opening: 25.5°
02 Januaryconjunction
05 Januarylunar occultation: 0.9° south of the Moon
13 Januaryplanetary conjunction: 1.7° north of Mercury
02 Februarylunar occultation: 0.6° south of the Moon
18 Februaryplanetary conjunction: 1.1° south of Venus
01 Marchlunar occultation: 0.3° south of the Moon
29 Marchlunar occultation: 0.1° north of the Moon
10 Aprilwest quadrature
25 Aprillunar occultation: 0.4° north of the Moon
27 Aprilmaximum declination north
28 Aprilminimum ring opening: 23.5°
30 Aprilstationary point: direct → retrograde
22 Maylunar occultation: 0.5° north of the Moon
19 Junelunar occultation: 0.4° north of the Moon
09 Julyopposition: magnitude +0.1, apparent diameter 18.5 arc-seconds
16 Julylunar occultation: 0.2° north of the Moon
12 Augustlunar occultation: 0.03° north of the Moon
08 Septemberlunar occultation: 0.04° north of the Moon
18 Septemberstationary point: retrograde → direct
28 Septembermaximum declination south
05 Octoberlunar occultation: 0.3° north of the Moon
07 Octobereast quadrature
02 Novemberlunar occultation: 0.6° north of the Moon
29 Novemberlunar occultation: 0.9° north of the Moon
11 Decemberplanetary conjunction: 1.8° north of Venus
27 December1.2° north of the Moon
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The dates, times and circumstances of all planetary and lunar phenomena were calculated from the JPL DE406 solar system ephemeris using the same rigorous methods that are employed in the compilation of publications such as The Astronomical Almanac.