See Saturn’s Rings from Saturn’s Moons

Want a better view of Saturn’s rings? You could fly to one of Saturn’s moons for a ‘rings-side’ seat, but the orbits of most of Saturn’s moons line up with the rings, so you would see them mostly on edge, as in this view from Saturn’s largest moon, Titan:

Saturn as seen from Titan - 20 degree-wide view


Two of Saturn’s moons have orbits that don’t line up with the rings. On Iapetus, for much of its travel around Saturn, you’d be able to see the face of the rings, like this view:

Saturn from Iapetus - 20 degree-wide view


While Iapetus is further from Saturn, the view of the rings is nicer, isn’t it. So call your real estate agent today and get some prime property on Iapetus !
{Disclaimer: Only one side of Iapetus faces Saturn – don’t fall for the ‘far side of Iapetus’ trick!}

In the simulations, you can see that Saturn is over five degrees across as seen from Titan -that’s the width of 10 full moons and Saturn plus its rings cover the same space as the apparent distance between the pointer stars of the Big Dipper. Saturn would be hard to miss if you could see it through Titan’s clouds. Saturn is 2 degrees across as seen from Iapetus; smaller, but still the width of four full moons.

Here’s how the moons of Saturn would look in a telescope this weekend – Titan is the brightest and can be seen in most small telescopes.

Saturn and its moon for the July 4th weekend - from Cartes du Ciel software

For more on how to find Saturn in the evening sky, see the post further below or the weekly planet discussion at Sky and Telescope.

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