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Encyclopedia > Transit of Earth from Saturn

A transit of Earth across the Sun as seen from Saturn takes place when the planet Earth passes directly between the Sun and Saturn, obscuring a small part of the Sun's disc for an observer on Saturn. During a transit, Earth can be seen from Saturn as a small black disc moving across the face of the Sun.

The event is particularly interesting because both the Earth and the Moon can usually be seen together in transit. In rare cases one of them transits and the other does not, because there is a grazing transit for one and a near-miss for the other. In other cases, the two may be so close together that they are hard to tell apart, such as on July 21, 2020, when the Earth and Moon are less than 5" apart at mid-transit.

Naturally, no one has ever seen a transit of Earth from Saturn, nor is this likely to happen in any foreseeable future. The last one took place on January 14, 2005.

A transit could hypothetically be observed from the surface of one of Saturn's moons rather than from Saturn itself. The times and circumstances of the transits would naturally be slightly different.

The Earth-Saturn synodic period is 387.107 days. It can be calculated using the formula 1/(1/P-1/Q), where P is the sidereal orbital period of Earth (365.25636 days, not the same as a tropical year) and Q is the orbital period of Saturn (10746.940 days).

Note: the images linked to in the following table do NOT take into account the finite speed of light. The distance of Earth from Saturn at inferior conjunction is approximately 8.5 AU, which would correspond to about 70 light-minutes. It can take up to 11 hours for Earth to transit across the Sun at its widest point, thus the images correspond fairly closely to what would actually be seen by an observer on Saturn.

The images correspond to a hypothetical observer at the center of Saturn. Since Saturn has a large radius, the parallax of Earth between Saturn's center and its north or south pole would be about 9.7", which is about 4.5 times Earth's apparent angular diameter of 2.2", or about 4.5% of the Sun's angular diameter (about 3.5'). Therefore, some extremely close near-misses might be seen as grazing transits at Saturn's poles.

Near misses are indicated with strikeout.

Transits of Earth from Saturn
January 14, 2005 [1] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=1&day=14&century=20&decade=0&year=5&hour=1&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
July 9, 2019 [2] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=7&day=9&century=20&decade=1&year=9&hour=21&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
July 21, 2020 [3] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=7&day=21&century=20&decade=2&year=0&hour=0&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
January 8, 2034 [4] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=1&day=8&century=20&decade=3&year=4&hour=0&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
January 22, 2035 [5] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=1&day=22&century=20&decade=3&year=5&hour=3&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
July 15, 2049 [6] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=7&day=15&century=20&decade=4&year=9&hour=23&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
January 16, 2064 [7] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=1&day=16&century=20&decade=6&year=4&hour=4&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
July 11, 2078 [8] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=7&day=11&century=20&decade=7&year=8&hour=0&minute=30&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
July 23, 2079 [9] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=7&day=23&century=20&decade=7&year=9&hour=2&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)
January 9, 2093 [10] (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=3&vbody=6&month=1&day=9&century=20&decade=9&year=3&hour=9&minute=0&fovmul=1&rfov=0.25&bfov=0.25&porbs=1)

For detailed timeline about the transit on January 14, 2005, see Cassini-Huygens_timeline.

See also


  • C.T. Whitmell, Saturn visible through the Cassini Division, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 62 (1902), 457 [11] (http://adsbit.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?journal=MNRAS&year=1902&volume=62&page_ind=455&letter=.&type=SCREEN_GIF)

External links

  • JPL Solar System Simulator (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/)



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