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Heaven matters: Saturn is well placed to inspire a generation of young children

I remember the first time I saw the planet Saturn through a small telescope from my parents' garden in Clondalkin . Niall Smith .

I was 10 years old and this huge planet I had read so much, was now visible to me, not just in pictures, but in real life! It almost seemed to hang from a thread, and its dazzling rings were clearly visible.

I hurried in to lure my less than enthusiastic family to share this moment of discovery and to my great surprise, that's what they did.

Turn the clock until June 201

8, and the planet Saturn is well placed to inspire a generation of young children and maybe a generation who missed the opportunity when they were younger.

Use the Moon to Find Saturn [19659006] The easiest way to discover Saturn is to look for a relatively bright, star-like object on the lower left of the full moon on June 27th.

The brightness of the full moon itself will make observing the planet less than ideal, but once you know where Saturn is, you can wait a few days for the moon to get out of the way and conditions improve significantly.

This month, Venus and Jupiter, both visible in the evening sky, are easier to spot. Venus in the west and really too bright to miss, and Jupiter in the south.

Although not as bright as Venus, Jupiter is the brightest object in the South, and you should not have any trouble discovering it has rings like Uranus and Neptune, but these are generally invisible from Earth.

The origin of ring systems is still unclear, but we know that they consist almost exclusively of water ice, and this could be useful for human missions in the outer solar system.

The two favored theories are that they are remnants of moons that have never arisen or have arisen from collisions of moons about 3-4 billion years ago

Unknowns of our solar system [19659012] The fact that we still do not fully understand what rings are like Around these planets, our lack of understanding of how our own solar system and home planet originated is shaped.

Just as the study of a very small group of people never reveals the whole history of evolution, only on planets in our own solar system will questions probably remain unanswered.

We have to keep looking away.

In April, the last mission to search for "interesting" planetary systems (exoplanets) was launched.

The NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TES S) was launched by Space X, a notable event in its own right as a private company launched the NASA Space Mission

The most interesting planetary systems discovered by TESS the topics for more detailed consequences – studies that should ultimately help us to understand how our solar system planets formed and maybe even whether rings are common.

One can dream of a time in the future when we have perfected interstellar travel, when our travels bring us close enough to other star systems so that we can observe planets there. I hope to have some rings.

And I hope the watchers have the same sense of awe I did when I looked at Saturn from a small garden in a small village with a small telescope on a small but stunningly beautiful planet [19659002] Dr. Niall Smith is Research Director / Head of Blackrock Castle Observatory at CIT. For more information on what can be seen in the June Sky, visit our newsletter at bco.ie/sky-matters/

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