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Q: VIEWING SATURN ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Category: Science > Astronomy
Asked by: yesmam-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 26 Aug 2003 15:08 PDT
Expires: 25 Sep 2003 15:08 PDT
Question ID: 249029
When is the best time to see Saturn tonight, August 26, in the New
York metropolitan area? What do you look for to recognize it and where
should we look? Will ordinary binoculars help to see it?

Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 26 Aug 2003 15:39 PDT

I was just about to post your answer when I realized that you asked
about SATURN not MARS as I had assumed.

Mars is the planet that everyone is talking about since it is
currently closer than it has been in 60,000 years. Is this what you
meant to ask for?

If not, note that in your area, Saturn rose at 1:53 this morning and
set about an hour ago.

Let me know what you'd like --


Clarification of Question by yesmam-ga on 26 Aug 2003 15:46 PDT
WOOOOPS, I meant MARS !!!
Answered By: knowledge_seeker-ga on 26 Aug 2003 16:07 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi yesmam,

Glad we go that straightened out! Though, had you not replied quickly,
I'd have taken a chance and posted this answer anyway so you wouldn't
miss the show. :-)

I sure hope the skies are clear for you tonight!  You are going to be
so glad you got a chance to see Mars as close as it will ever be in
our lifetime.  I've gone out 4 -5 times with the telescope over the
last 2 weeks and it gets more amazing every time!

Here are the important times (all EDT) you need to know for the best
look at Mars:

Sunset:  7:38 pm  
Mars rises:  8:08 pm 
Mars transit (overhead):  1:14 am

Now, to get the best look you're going to want to wait until 9:30 or
10pm. Before that you may have trouble seeing it clearly through the
atmospheric pollution and heat waves emanating from the city.

Mars will rise in the east, and then traverse fairly low across the
southern sky so the view you are going to need is an East / Southeast

Just to clarify one thing, when they say "transit" at 1:14 am, that
doesn't really mean it will be straight overhead. It never actually
gets that high. It will reach its highest point in the southern sky at
that time. You're going to want to make sure you have a good clear
view to the south as it moves towards its transit.

You shouldn't have ANY trouble recognizing Mars. It will be the
brightest thing in the south/eastern sky – brighter than all the
stars. Also, especially early in its rise, Mars will be orange-yellow
in color.

If you aren't sure you are looking at the right thing, remember, you
can tell a planet from a star because stars "twinkle" and are white
points of light. Planets do not twinkle, they glow, and with
binoculars, have a disk shape.

You don't need binoculars to see it, but you will get a much clearer
view if you use them. With binoculars the disk shape and the reddish
color will be apparent.

Here are some websites that give more information:

Mars Watch 2003
Sun Set & Mars Rise Times for August 26-27, 2003  for cities in the

Westchester Amateur Astronomers, Inc

So, that should be everything you need. For a perfect evening, find
yourself a rooftop, pack a picnic, and enjoy this once-in-60,000-years

Take care –

yesmam-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thanks so much fot answering my question so quickly and for picking up
on my goof. I was anxious to learn about it because I thought that the
evening of the 26th was the ONLY night that the viewing was going to
be good for. My part of the country though is so close to NYC that the
ambient light never gives us really dark nights.
From the newspaper this morning, I see that lots of others are really
enthralled by the specialness of these wonderous events.Did you get a
good view?
Thanks Again,

From: iso8601-ga on 26 Aug 2003 17:14 PDT
The good news, although the answer above was for a specific location,
that the times and directions hold true for any place in the
mid-latitudes of the Northern hemisphere, as long as you take the
times above as being your LOCAL times.

Mars is closest about now, but has been good visibility for months and
will still be good for many months. Howeverm the really best time is
the week or so centred on about now.
From: iso8601-ga on 26 Aug 2003 17:17 PDT
Oh, and the closer you are to the Equator, the higher in the sky it
gets at its best point of the night.

Through binoculars you might also just make out the white polar ice
caps too. Look carefully.
From: yesmam-ga on 28 Aug 2003 07:55 PDT
iso8601 said:"Oh, and the closer you are to the Equator, the higher in
the sky it gets at its best point of the night."

No, we're in the NY metropolitan area, but already some great pictures
have been shown. A trip to the equator wouldn't be feasible at this
time, but if I ever got the opportunity to go, I'll remember to bend
my neck up to the sky.
From: knowledge_seeker-ga on 28 Aug 2003 08:17 PDT
Hi yesmam,

Thank you for the kind words and the tip! We didn't see Mars on the
26th because of cloud cover, but last night (27th) it was perfect. We
set up the telescope and got a great look at it!  We had some
difficulty with city lights, but by 10:30 EDT it was high enough to
clear most of that. Yes, seeing a planet so clearly is an enthralling

Thanks again --


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