is tomorrow, Thursday June 15
at 10 Universal Time, which is 4 AM in America’s Central time zone. So if you watch Saturn rising in the southeast this evening of the 14th, it is only a couple of hours before opposition.
You can see in our diagram that Saturn is very close to what I call the anti-Sun, which can also be thought of as Earth’s shadow (it would cause a lunar eclipse if the Moon were there). Saturn in this part of its slightly inclined orbit passes 1.22° north of the anti-Sun point.
Saturn has not quite reached the southernmost part of its orbit. That will come next year, and at the next opposition, 2018 June 27, it will be about half a degree farther south. Being near to the southernmost part of the ecliptic implies that the opposition date will be nearer to our summer solstice, with the shortest night.
Already night-time seems shortest if you are a riser-before-dawn, because rhe earliest sunrise comes today, June 14, for parts of the Earth around latitude 40° north. We’ve previously had to discuss why earliest and latest sunrise and sunset do not coincide exactly with the solstices.
And Saturn is in the part of its orbit where the northern surface of its rings is tilted widely open toward us. Actually the maximum of this openness will come on October 17, though the difference between now and then is slight.