It's in the stars, May 14, 2017

STUNNING: Saturn is the 'Lord of the Rings' during May in Australia. Picture: NASA
STUNNING: Saturn is the 'Lord of the Rings' during May in Australia. Picture: NASA

AUSTRALIAN stargazers already have the Southern Cross high overhead in the early evening along with brilliant stars that fleck the Milky.

Now there’s a new player in the game, the ringed world Saturn, and you’re going to want to take a peek. 

You’ll find Saturn rising in the east a few hours after sunset.

You’re looking for a small yellowish “starlike” point of light.

Pan around with your binoculars and you’re sure to spot it.

On your phone download an app called SkyView to help you out.

Ask amateur telescope users what's the most beautiful thing in the sky, and lots of them will say Saturn. 

“Saturn is a captivating sight, even in a small telescope, but your local seeing conditions will be the greatest make or break,” said Dave Reneke from Australasian Science Magazine.

“Magnify it too much and it defies you by turning into a blurry mess.”

Saturn also rewards time spent looking, don’t rush, relax and things start to appear as your eyes get better at seeing.

Overall, you’ll find that a yellow filter sharpens up the whole planet appreciably.

You can get a cheap set of planetary filters from any online telescope store.

A view of Saturn in a good telescope often draws gasps from visitors.

It’s the planet with the “wow” factor.

“Every time I show people Saturn for the first time they turn around with a wide grin and say, ‘Wow, it really is there’,” Dave said. 

“But, there is a warning about viewing Saturn through a telescope. It could get you hooked on astronomy! It did with me.”

Right now the rings are tilted in our direction and getting wider.

They were edge on in 2009 and almost impossible to see.

This is the best time in three decades to view Saturn! Visit your local astronomy club, they’ll have large telescopes available for Saturn and a dozen other sky goodies to boot!

While you’re quietly taking in Saturn at the eyepiece consider this. Saturn is so light that if you had an ocean big enough to hold it, it would float. Really! Saturn’s rings are only 10 metres thick and are made almost entirely of ice.

So, what made the rings?

Astronomers believe a huge comet on a collision course broke up around the planet shattering into millions of bits of dust, dirt and ice.   

“Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system, and more than 750 Earths could fit inside it. Now you know why we call it the Lord Of the Rings,” Dave added.