Image: Westchester Amateur Astronomers

During 2003's full tilt of Saturn's rings, which revealed the planet's entire southern hemisphere, we were able to see Saturn’s outer ring, the A Ring, completely encircling the planet’s disk. At lesser tilts, a portion of even this outermost ring is obscured by the planet itself. These ring tilt extremes come at approximately 15-year intervals and alternately show off the planet's entire north or south half. One such tilt occurred in September 1988 revealing Saturn's northern hemisphere; the planet’s declination during this time was unfavorable for northern hemisphere observers. In October 2017, when Saturn reveals its northern hemisphere for the second time in 29 years, the planet once again lies very low in our northern skies with less than optimal viewing conditions. It will be 2030 – 2033 before we can enjoy Saturn doing a "full tilt boogie" high in the sky, showing off its southern side! By the way, the rings appear edge on and "invisible" as the rings move from one extreme to another. Saturn teaches us about ourselves. What could these 15 and 30 year cycles of Saturn be revealing to you?