Saturday, and Saturn is at opposition. A planet’s crowning time is when it is right at the opposite side of the celestial sphere from the Sun.
Here is the scene at two hours after sunset this evening. Saturn has appeared in the east, having risen as the Sun went down. By midnight the beautiful planet will climb to its highest in the south – about where the star Spica is now.
Way over to the west, Jupiter is still high, with the slim Moon coming up past it; and Venus – the brightest of all these except for the Moon – is going down, to set in about an hour.
Actually, the moment of opposition was Saturday May 23 2 hours Universal Time, which was back on Friday May 22 in America (9 PM on the east coast, or 10 by Eastern Daylight-Shifting Time). But we want to take the chance to celebrate Saturn’s opposition on his own day.
The Romans called the days of the week after the planets (or their gods) Sol, Luna, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn; and the Romance languages (those descended from Latin) have kept these Latin names, approximately (Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi, Jeudi and so on). The Germanic languages, including English, substituted for these the names of their own corresponding gods: Sun, Moon, Tiw, Woden, Thor, Frigg – except in the case of the seventh day, for which we have kept jolly old Saturn. I don’t know whether anyone has found a reason for this exception; perhaps there was no sufficiently easygoing fellow, with mud and manure from the farmyard on his boots, among the Northern pantheon.
Oh, yes, there was a Latin word satur. It meant “sated,” and is one of the words, along with satis, “enough,” satum, “sown,” and others, that may or may not have underlain the god’s name.
There is of course more about planet Saturn and his opposition and his satellites and his rings in the SATURN section of Astronomical Calendar 2015.