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Saturn Nears Opposition from the Sun

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#1 Centaur

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:20 AM

Saturn and its rings are approaching opposition from the Sun on April 28th when the planet will be out all night. Greatest brilliance is expected around April 20th. My detailed article and graphics related to this year’s apparition can be found at: www.CurtRenz.com/saturn

Photos and descriptions of Saturn and its rings would be welcome additions to this thread.

#2 Isdaako

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:21 PM

Thanks!

#3 Tom and Beth

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 06:07 PM

Ditto on the THANKS!

#4 Centaur

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 10:12 AM

You're welcome, Isdaako, Tom & Beth. Saturn will be at opposition tonight. If your skies are clear, head outside and enjoy. The Sun is shining brightly today in Chicago, but clouds are expected tonight. So I'll have to depend on your reports.

#5 Schaden

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 05:37 AM

Had an amazing observing session with Saturn tonight. I knew it would be good when this afternoon I checked the seeing forecast and transparency and seeing were both 5/5 from 1am on. I setup my C8 at 11pm. An hour later I was still getting tube currents, but I could already notice Saturn looked more colorful than usual. The moon looked nice as well. Went back an hour later and had no problem barlowing to 360x in the es82. It truly looked even better at that mag. On the moon, an endless amount of tiny craters were visible.

And I've never seen such great contrast in the bands of Saturn, I counted 6 above the rings, all different shades of a striking orange, Brown, and gray at the pole. The rings have never looked so good to me. For the first time I could see obvious differences of shading within both the A and B ring, both had a lighter band and darker portion within them, most obvious in each ring at the widest point around the planet. So the effect was like seeing 4 different rings 2 on each side of Cassini. All were subtley different salmonish colors compared to the planet itself which was definitely more of a vivid orangey tan in comparison.

And Encke's division was flicking in and out of view. It was just like seeing a second smaller, thinner Cassini division out on the edge of the A ring. Also within the dark black space between the inside of the rings and planet, I could detect a difference between the very edge if the planet which was pitch black and the blackness inside of the rings, which was dark gray and follwed a curve inside the B. Simply beautiful.

Yeah so I'm pretty excited. The awesome seeing lasted for about 45 minutes, then suddenly it got fuzzy. I went back in for 20 minutes and came back out and it was good again. The bands on the planet really stood out. The colors seemed more vibrant than usual, and seeing an obvious difference of intensity within different sections of the A and B ring was neat. The view was like some of the wonderful sketches I'vs seen. I'm tired but already looking forward to tomorrow. The 5/5 seeing is supposed to continue.

#6 MikeBOKC

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 06:31 PM

Several club members gathered at a lake here in town last night to welcome Saturn's opposition. After warming up on Jupiter to the west as Saturn climbed slowly out of the light/atmosphere sink over the city, we spent an hour or so with the ringed beauty. Unfortunately seeing was pretty marginal, but Cassini was apparent most of the time in my CPC1100. I plugged in the Denk Big Easy binoviewer with a pair of 16mm Brandons, but that level of magnification was just too much given the wobbly sky conditions, so I dropped back to the 24mm Panoptics. The object was not so much to make detailed observations, since seeing was just too poor, but it was a nice symbolic way to welcome Saturn home to the evening sky for spring. I always feel better having either Saturn or Jupiter placed high in the sky after dusk, and am looking forward to several months of making Saturn my first stop on any night of observing, especially as conditions allow trips to the club dark site with my xx14g, which has yet to be aimed at Saturn. Bottom line there is no sight to beat the year's first eyepiece view of this planet.

#7 cnahm

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 12:15 AM

Got my first decent view of Saturn in the new-to-me EdgeHD 8. Unfortunately my magnification maxes out at around 240x, but I suspect that my location in the middle of the city keeps things soupy enough that that doesn't really mean much. Tonight there was still a small amount of fluttering movement around the edge of the disc, but it was better than other recent nights. Anyway, Cassini was plainly visible, as was the large middle band. The disc was obviously more yellowish than the rings which were more pure white in front of it. I hope to get some more steady nights as the evenings keep getting warmer, but this was a pretty good start.

Edit: After midnight, it was calmed down more to where there was no turbulent limb. Brightness variation apparent on each side of Cassini division, which was easily held with steady vision. A little more shading on planet's disc was showing too. May need a barlow, or a 5mm eyepiece of some sort!

#8 Rich (RLTYS)

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 05:20 AM

To All

On 4/28/13, the night of the opposition of Saturn, I decided to image Saturn to see if I could capture the “opposition effect”. This is when, during opposition, Saturn’s rings are directly facing Earth and so are noticeably brighter than normal. I have observed this brightening a number of times and it can be quite impressive. I took my image on the 28th and compared it to an earlier image of Saturn taken on the 9th. I admit the image from the 28th is not very sharp either because of poor seeing or clouds. The “mission” was shortened because of increasing cloud cover. Despite the second image being rather poor you can definitely see a difference in the brightness of the rings, especially at their widest points. I’d like to think it would be more noticeable with a sharper image.

Rich (RLTYS)

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#9 Widespread

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 08:25 AM

Thanks for a great report! I plumb forgot about Enke, but it probably would have been pretty tough with my 4".

After days of poor weather, yesterday (4/29) I got back about midnight from a whirlwind one-day business trip, and immediately set my 102GT OTA/ Vixen Porta on my deck.

I observed Saturn for about 50 minutes, until about 1:30AM. I mostly used my 11mm, 8.8mm and 6.7mm ES82 EPs. The most pleasing views were generally with the 8.8ES82 at 114x, but the 6.7ES82 (149x) was also good, albeit a tad soft.

As my scope reached ambient temp and my eye got fully adapted, Cassini division became crisp and dark. The banding on the planetary disc was the best I've seen to date. With patience, I got occasional hints of B/C ring color differential, which I have not seen with my 4" before.

Viewing from a 2FL deck is not ideal, but it's surprising how still I can be when I'm intently observing.

Using the 6.7mm did remind me, however, that I still have not replaced the Synta glue in my 102GT's focuser!

Best,
David

#10 cnahm

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 09:14 AM

My eyepiece view last night actually looked a lot like the left-hand Canary Islands 2 image above.

#11 aa6ww

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 02:57 PM

Saturn is looking excellent in the evening these days,. Anyone else having fun with this great planet?

....Ralph

#12 Rick Woods

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 06:23 PM

I've been having nothing but high winds! No joy with Saturn yet.
But I think I'll schedule an Opposition of Saturn party for all my friends on the 27th, and take my chances. I need to brush up on my Saturn presentation (but after the first couple of batches of margaritas, my audience will be primed and ready anyway.)

Been reading so much Titan literature lately that I can't wait to get that bad boy in my sights again. :)

#13 DrBoring

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 10:32 PM

Tonight the view was great! I saw three dim lights just outside the rings ... Perhaps moons? They stayed with Saturn as it moved across the sky. Does this sound likely, or is it probably something else?

#14 Rick Woods

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 11:07 PM

Probably moons. You can see 5-6 of them with fairly small scopes.

#15 azure1961p

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 05:45 AM

Possibly a staging area for extra terrestrials before they invade earth!
;)

Moons to be sure. It does pass faint stars now and again and rarely runs over them in a way we can see, but for the most part on any given night its moons.

Pete

#16 azure1961p

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 05:50 AM

Rick in good seeing you ought to resolve Titan as a clean disc. I'd bet in great seeing and something like 700x it'd look phenomenal!!!

Pete

#17 Rick Woods

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 01:24 PM

Rick in good seeing you ought to resolve Titan as a clean disc. I'd bet in great seeing and something like 700x it'd look phenomenal!!!

Pete


Yeah - that's what I want! I had those conditions once, several years ago, but I spent the time staring at Saturn and didn't even think about Titan. *sigh*

#18 Rick Woods

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 01:27 PM

But I think I'll schedule an Opposition of Saturn party for all my friends on the 27th, and take my chances.


My wife cleverly pointed out that it's already past the 27th. Doh!
That's what happens when you retire and lose track of the date.

#19 Kon Dealer

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 01:53 PM

I too had good seeing last night and got my best ever view of Saturn with my 4" refractor
Banding and Cassini were distinct at X77 and got better up to X153.
This was despite Saturn still being low in the sky (I'm at 52 North!) and some "shimmer" from having to look over my neighbour's roof.
Had to pack up at 11.25pm as Saturn disappeared behind a tree.

#20 dcx3420

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 07:27 PM

I have been out for three nights observing my favorite jewel of the sky. I had a few surprises though.I was using a good friends borrowed 3.5 Questar @ 118X with a 11mm T-6 Nagler and my Quantum-4 @ 116X with a 13mm T-6 Nagler.I let them both cool down for an hour or so, then began my observing with the globe first, I was able to see two bands on the northern portion of Saturn in both scopes. I turned to the rings, The CD at the ansae looked like an old friend using the Quantum-4 I switched back to the Questar, the rings where no where to be seen. Seeing was fair to good at times. I did see some faint shadowing on the rings from the globe with the Quantum. All in all it was an enjoyable and interesting night. I was hoping the Questar would have preform a little better. On a final note. I kept getting the optical illusion that the rings were first pointed North then South, they seemed to keep changing whenever I thought about it. Is this from me looking at the moon too much:)






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