Saturn will get so close to Earth its rings will be visible through a telescope

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Saturn will be so close to Earth this month that its rings will be visible through a normal telescope. On Tuesday, the ringed planet will shine at its maximum brightness and come less than a million miles from Earth. That means planet gazers can see Saturn's rings in any telescope that magnifies to at least 20 power, or sharper, Space.com reports.

On Tuesday, Saturn will lie on the opposite side of the sky as the sun, and its brightness will rival some of the shiniest stars in the galaxy. In fact, Saturn would rank as the seventh-brightest star if it was compared to the 21 brightest stars, according to Space.com.

On Tuesday, Saturn will lie on the opposite side of the sky as the sun, and its brightness will rival some of the shiniest stars in the galaxy. NASA

Saturn will rise in the east-southeast and set in the west-northwest, and at around 1 a.m. local daylight time, it will be visible in the southern region of the sky. If you don't have a telescope, you could still see Saturn with the naked eye – it will look like a bright yellow-white star, according to Space.com. Just look toward the star pattern known as the "Teapot" in the Sagittarius constellation.

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A telescope or even binoculars will reveal Saturn's rings, which are made up of billions of ice particles that can be microscopically tiny – or as big as a boulder.

Saturn is visible for most of July. To find it, Space.com said to first find Jupiter – which looks like a big silver star – and then look for the nearby star-like object, which is Saturn. On Monday, Saturn will appear close to the nearly full moon, so it will be even easier to spot in the sky, Space.com reports.

First published on July 9, 2019 / 2:30 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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