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Saturn to be visible to the naked eye this Sunday

Mumbai Planet Saturn will come close to Earth on Sunday - its closest position till 2023 - and will be visible directly opposite the Sun, an astrophysicist said in Mumbai on Saturday.

Akash Ganga Centre for Astronomy chief Bharat Adur said that the position is called "Saturn opposition".

"Though Saturn coming close to Earth is a regular annual phenomenon, 2013 is significant since it will remain the closest encounter till 2023," Adur told IANS.

On Sunday evening, Saturn will be seen rising in the east at sunset and set the next morning (Monday) at sunrise.

It will be visible full night as a very bright star, without a twinkle, with naked eyes, and even its rings shall be visible with binoculars, Adur said.

Last time, Saturn came close to Earth was April 15, 2012 and the next time it will be May 10, 2014, but the affinity of 2013 will be only witnessed after another decade, he explained.

The off-white, almost yellowish Saturn has a very large orbit around the Sun compared to Earth, and its movement is also much slower.

Moving at 9.69 km per second, Saturn takes 29.5 (Earth) years to complete one revolution round the sun.

In contrast, Earth moves at 29.78 kms per second and approximately 366 days to complete one revolution around the Sun.

"So, a 60-year old man on Earth would be roughly equal to a two year old child on Saturn," Adur noted.

Based on their movements, every 378 days, Sun, Earth and Saturn become perfectly aligned, though the distances may vary.

On Sunday, Saturn will be at a distance of around 132.20 crore kms away from Earth, as compared to its farthest position of around 165 crore kms.

During the phenomenon, the rings of Saturn along with 47 of its over 60 satellites, will be tilted at 18 degrees, offering a better view.

Some of its brightest moons, like Titan, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione and Rhea will be visible through good telescopes, Adur said.

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