Simma Sky: South American Total Eclipse and SATURN

Cosmic Spectacle in South America

Simma Sky: South American Total Eclipse and SATURN

Photo Courtesy Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Before we get to what you can actually see in the sky this month, I have to say something about the total solar eclipse that occured at the beginning of the month in South America.

Ask ANYONE who has experienced a total solar eclipse (I have many friends who have done it, including Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh) and they'll tell you it was surreal event. It's on my list and it's gonna happen someday.

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People view the total solar eclipse over northern Chile on July 2. Photo courtesy Esteban Felix/AP.

Total Solar Eclipse as seen from the La Silla European Southern Observatory (ESO) in La Higuera, Coquimbo Region, Chile. Photo Courtesy Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

Back here in the Northern Hemisphere...
July is the month where Saturn reaches Opposition, as discussed in previous issues of Simma Sky. Opposition occurs when the Earth in its orbit swings between the sun and the planet in question. In this case, it's the Earth coming between the sun and Saturn.

Opposition occurs yearly for most of the outer planets (except Mars). Note that the image is not to scale. Saturn is about 9.5 times the Earth’s distance from the sun. Earth goes between the sun and Saturn once a year, 2 weeks later each year. Image via


Saturn can be seen nightly, rising at night in the east - opposite sunset - and setting in the west before sunrise.