How far away is Saturn now?
Last Updated: Today
Where does this live distance data come from?
I source Saturn’s distance from Earth via the Horizon JPL API. It is a free service provided by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that offers access to ephemeris (positional) data and related information for celestial bodies, such as planets, asteroids, and comets. The system can be accessed through various interfaces, including a web interface, a telnet interface, and an email interface.
This API contains the precise distance between Saturn and Earth from each day of the next few hundred years.
So I simply created a system to check for today’s date, then go retrieve the accurate distance value directly from NASA’s database. The up-to-date value is then displayed on this page.
How do scientists calculate the real-time distance between Saturn and earth?
Scientists calculate the live distance between Saturn and Earth using a combination of mathematics, astronomical data, and the principles of celestial mechanics. The positions of Earth and Saturn in their respective orbits are constantly changing due to their elliptical orbits and different orbital periods around the Sun.
Saturn's orbital parameters
Orbital parameters describe the way objects move around in space, such as planets, moons, and satellites. These parameters include the size, shape, and tilt of the orbit, as well as the object’s position and speed within the orbit.
They help scientists understand and predict the paths of celestial bodies, which is crucial for planning space missions, observing astronomical phenomena, and monitoring satellites.
|Orbital Parameter||Saturn||Earth||Ratio (Saturn/Earth)||Definition|
|Semimajor axis (10^6 km)||1,432.041||149.598||9.573||The average distance from the center of the planet to its orbit|
|Sidereal orbit period (days)||10,759.22||365.256||29.457||The time taken to complete one orbit around the Sun|
|Tropical orbit period (days)||10,746.94||365.242||29.424||The time taken to complete one orbit relative to the seasons|
|Perihelion (10^6 km)||1,357.554||147.095||9.229||The closest distance to the Sun in the planet’s orbit|
|Aphelion (10^6 km)||1,506.527||152.100||9.905||The farthest distance to the Sun in the planet’s orbit|
|Synodic period (days)||378.09||–||–||The time between two successive oppositions or conjunctions|
|Mean orbital velocity (km/s)||9.67||29.78||0.325||The average speed of the planet in its orbit|
|Max. orbital velocity (km/s)||10.14||30.29||0.335||The maximum speed of the planet in its orbit|
|Min. orbital velocity (km/s)||9.14||29.29||0.312||The minimum speed of the planet in its orbit|
|Orbit inclination (deg)||2.486||0.000||–||The tilt of the planet’s orbit relative to the ecliptic plane|
|Orbit eccentricity||0.0520||0.0167||3.114||The measure of the ellipticity of the planet’s orbit|
|Sidereal rotation period (hrs)||10.656*||23.9345||0.445||The time taken for one complete rotation on its axis|
|Length of day (hrs)||10.656||24.0000||0.444||The duration of daylight on the planet|
|Obliquity to orbit (deg)||26.73||23.44||1.140||The angle between the planet’s rotational axis and its orbit|
Saturn at opposition (list for the next 7 years)
When astronomer talks about Saturn being at opposition, it means that Saturn, Earth, and the Sun are aligned in a straight line, with Earth in the middle. During this time, which lasts for a few weeks, Saturn appears brighter and larger in the sky because it’s at its closest point to Earth in its orbit.
Saturn reaches planetary opposition approximately once every 12 months, or about once a year, providing astronomers and stargazers with an amazing opportunity to observe and admire the ringed planet.
Below you can find a list of opposition dates for the next 7 years:
|Date||Constellation||Magnitude||Apparent Size (Arcseconds)||Distance from Earth (AU)|
|2023 Aug 27||Aquarius||+0.3||44″.0||8.7629|
|2024 Feb 28||Aquarius||+0.4||43″.5||8.6580|
|2024 Sep 8||Aquarius||+0.5||43″.9||8.5467|
|2025 Mar 12||Pisces||+0.5||44″.6||8.4342|
|2026 Oct 4||Cetus||+0.3||45″.3||8.3260|
|2027 Oct 18||Pisces||+0.0||45″.8||8.2275|
|2028 Oct 30||Aries||-0.1||46″.2||8.1444|
|2029 Nov 13||Aries||-0.3||46″.7||9.905|
|2030 Nov 27||Taurus||+0.5||43″.9||9.573|
|2031 Jun 3||Pisces||+0.3||45″.3||9.229|
Just for fun, how long would it take to reach Saturn via different transportation means
The average distance between Earth and Saturn is 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers), so based on that distance, I have calculated the time it would take to reach the giant ringed planet at the speed of different means of transportation.
- On foot (3 mph): approximately 33,727 years
- Bicycle (15 mph): approximately 6,745 years
- Horse (galloping at 25 mph): approximately 4,047 years
- Motorbike (average speed of 70 mph): approximately 1,444 years
- Boat (cruising speed of 23 mph): approximately 4,399 years
- Car (60 mph): approximately 1,686 years
- High-speed train (200 mph): approximately 506 years
- Commercial Airplane (575 mph): approximately 176 years
- Concorde supersonic jet (1,350 mph): approximately 75 years
- SpaceX Starship (projected average speed of 16,777 mph): approximately 6 years
Please note this is only for fun and it does not reflect the reality of space travel. This is a simplification and does not account for acceleration, deceleration, or the gravitational influences of celestial bodies which would play significant roles in actual space travel.
Also, these calculations assume constant speed, which is not how actual space travel works. A real trip to Saturn would be faster due to the spacecraft picking up speed from gravitational assists.
Bonus Fact: On average it takes about 1-2 hours for light from Saturn to reach Earth.
How far away are the other planets of the solar system?
I have developed a webpage that monitors the real-time distances between Earth and each planet of the solar system (work in progress):
- Real-time distance between the Moon and Earth
- Real-time distance between Mercury and Earth
- Real-time distance between Venus and Earth
- Real-time distance between Mars and Earth
- Real-time distance between Jupiter and Earth
- Real-time distance between Uranus and Earth
- Real-time distance between Neptune and Earth
- How far away is Earth from the Sun?
I’ve been fascinated by space and astronomy from a very young age. When I’m not watching space-themed documentaries, movies or TV series, I spend most of my free time in my backyard admiring the planets and galaxies with my telescope.