Just like the Earth, Saturn's rotational axis is not perpendicular to the plane of its orbit. This means that, depending on the relative positions of Earth and Saturn in their orbits, we see the rings at different angles. The result is that we see Saturn's rings at different tilts in a 29 year cycle--opened down, edge-on, opened up, edge-on, and opened down again.
Right now, the viewing Saturn's rings is excellent. Any telescope will show the rings very much tilted 'up' as it is summer in Saturn's southern hemisphere. The apparent tilt of the rings will decrease until we see them edge-on in 2009-2010. Saturn can currently been seen high in the western sky before sunrise.
Answered by: Brian Bearss, B.S., High School Physics Teacher, Yale, MI, USA
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