I have started to watch the skies in order to learn stars, constellations planets etc. The few references I checked state that Saturn presents itself to the naked eye as a pale yellow tiny little ball, easy to notice if one knows beforehand its position.

So, using Stellarium I have managed to learn that Saturn is near the Scorpio constellation, just below its claws, which is easy to spot because Antares has distinct red-orange colour.

However, when I first spotted the planet I noticed that it was like a blue ball. I should say it looked like a pale, near white blue or a pale blue, near white -- I can not be more precise than this.

I am spotting it correctly? I was taught that planets do not scintillate like stars. The ball I am talking about certainly did not do it. If I did spot it correctly, I would like to ask if and how often Saturn changes its colours.

p.s. I thought it might be a case of city pollution, however I should say I live in a small mountain village with very few if any air or light pollution.

Many thanks in advance.

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    $\begingroup$ It shouldn't look like a "ball" to the naked eye, merely as a quite bright, non-twinkling (in a normal sky) star. It is certainly yellowish in aspect too. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


Planets do scintillate, just much less often - it takes much greater turbulence to make them twinkle. I've seen Venus twinkle quite a few times, especially when it was close to horizon.

Light pollution makes no difference when observing the planets in the Solar System. They are far too bright to be affected by it.

Saturn should be an off-white when observed with the naked eye. That being said however, if the planet is close to horizon and atmosphere is turbulent, it can cause some weird color effects. But then the color would appear to change rapidly.

In any case, as someone else said in comments, no planet looks like a "ball" to the naked eye. They are all points of light just like the stars.

Check this guide, it should tell you the best method to locate Saturn these days (use the image at the top of the article):


If the object you're looking at is in the right place with regard to Antares and the other things in Scorpio, then it's probably Saturn, no matter what color it seems to be. Color is very subjective and can be modified by the atmosphere in some cases. Position is not subjective.

Don't worry too much about color. For comparison, Jupiter is a more pronounced shade of butter-yellow than Saturn, so that's less controversial, you don't see people argue about the color of Jupiter. But a lot of people see Saturn as plain white; I see it as off-white, the color of old PC cases.

If you can borrow some good binoculars, you should see the ring. Lean the instrument (or your elbows) against something solid (like a table or wall), try and keep the binoculars very steady, and watch the object. Be patient and hold steady. You should see the ring as a tiny streak across the planet, kind of like the letter phi: Φ. Just regular binoculars should be enough to make this observation, and it's pretty awesome when you see it for the first time.

In a bigger instrument the real shape of the ring becomes evident.


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