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Saturn Last Night

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#1 REC

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 07:46 AM

Anyone out looking at Saturn in the SE last night. Had some of my best views yet of the planet around 10pm. Nice and high in the South and looks like for me in my backyard is going to be 10-12pm for a while. Riding high and not over any houses to mess up the air.

At 100-130x I could see 6 of it's moons including the two very close and dim ones. Cassini was fading in and out, so still looking for that magic nite where it is razor sharp.

Oh and as a bonus, while viewing, I had a pretty bright satellite go though the FOV....cool.

Looking forward to another clear night and maybe less or no wind tonight....may it will be the night:)

Bob

#2 cnahm

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:56 AM

For me I've had two nights in a row of quite turbulent seeing, so not so good. But on Sunday night it was nice and steady, and I had some great views. Clean Cassini almost all the way around, good color distinction between rings and planet disc, some banding, and the polar region darker. I enjoyed it for a good while that evening.

#3 leviathan

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:03 AM

For me last night seeing was really bad. I also saw bright satellite (about 8-9m) about a week ago crossing field of view of my EP looking at Saturn. It passed above Saturn and then Titan from East to West and I traced it for several minutes.

#4 Schaden

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:49 AM

I was out last night in the SW. Seeing was predicted to be a IV.

Put the nexstar outside at 8:40, observed from about 10:30 to midnight.

Looked really nice at 180x, and I went back and forth with 360x.

The fat tan eq band just above the rings really stood out, and I had subtle glimpses of 3-4 other bands and the dark pole. Cassinis was visible all around but had a bit of squigglyness at 360x. The A ring had the typical darker shade than B, with what I best can describe as a "textured" quality, while the B was a brighter seemingly "smooth" looking surface. Titan was nice and Brown. Overall a good night aside from some wind occasionally bouncing Saturn around in the ep.

#5 ericj

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:03 PM

Hi Bob,

Enjoyed reading your report and glad you got some nice views of Saturn.

Best,

Eric Jamison

#6 george golitzin

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:46 PM

I think I must have seen the same satellite last night as you, Bob.

Saturn has been wonderful despite its low altitude--the occasional break in the seeing has allowed for magnifications up around 300X in my 12.5. I don't recall seeing the banding quite so well before; the color of the bright equatorial zone strikes me as a very pretty lemon yellow. Following the broad, kind of brownish temperate belt(s), there is another light zone about latitude 45 north, and yet another light zone circling the very dark north polar region.

I agree with Schaden: the A ring has a textured quality, which in good seeing resolves into the Encke minima. Meanwhile, the B ring is very bright white, but not featureless: it shows a minimum near the inner boundary with the crepe ring. The crepe ring shows very nicely across the orb, while requiring stiller air to see well at the ansae. Anyway, it's been a lot of fun, and I think it's great that Saturn has shown up this year just as Jupiter has set. Kind of maximizing our planetary pleasure.

-geo

#7 REC

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 07:32 AM

Yeah, pretty nice this last two months for Planetary viewing. Early in the evening I have one scope in the front yard to see Jupiter as it is sinking in the west and later on I go to my backyard to observe Saturn:)

Just have to keep the clouds away as summer storm season is just starting.

BOB

#8 stmguy

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 09:15 AM

I did get a look at Saturn last night, looked pretty good but fairly low for me

Norm

#9 David Knisely

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 12:54 AM

I had Saturn tonight (May 17th just before midnight CDT) in my 14 inch f/4.6 Newtonian. It was simply gorgeous!! I was able to use up to 554x, although the best views came at between 384x and 471x. For the first time since the rings had last been more nearly edge-on, I managed to see eight moons at the same time. Iapetus was well on the preceding side away from the planet and easy to see even at low power, while Enceladus (preceding north) and Mimas (off the following ansa of the rings) hugged the rings. Rhea, Dione, and Tethys formed a nice almost north-south trio to the following side of the rings, followed by bright orangish Titan and a little farther on the following side, the very faint dot of Hyperion. When seeing settled down, the rings were simply stunning. The A-ring easily showed the Encke minimum feature at moderate power, sometimes looking like one or two fuzzy divisions in the middle of the ring. At 471x, I could occasionally detect the fine Encke division next to the very outermost edge of the A-ring, but even when it was visible it was only seen for about two to four seconds at a time and still wasn't exactly easy. The B-ring showed a banded "record" like structure with some brightness variations across its width, and the old adage, "You could have driven a truck through the Cassini Division" held true. The bands on the planet were also very clear with a little faint hints of mottling. The polar region showed its greyish polar cap-like feature, and I thought there was another faint narrow belt between it and the more equatorial belts. In fact, the lighter zone to the north of the main belts appeared unusually bright tonight. All in all, it was one of the better views I have had of the planet. Clear skies to you.

#10 REC

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 07:41 AM

Oh that sound like you had a delightful evening:)

I would love to look at Saturn though a scope that size some time. I need to go to a star pary soon and look through some bigger scopes. Most nights I'm stuck at 150-200 range in my 8" SCT which is not bad, but hope to have an excellent seeing night sometime and get it up to 250x range in my BV. I wouldn't mind seeing a Volkswagen Beetle drive through Cassini...... :roflmao:

Bob

#11 Stargazer3236

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 12:09 AM

I observed Saturn last night, 5/18-5/19 and it was very good seeing. I could see the disc of Saturn's shadow on the rings, the shadow of the rings on the disc of Saturn. I could see 5 moons. I also could see the north Polar hood at the top of Saturn. The Cassini gap was dark and clear and I thought I observed the Encke gap as well. There were intermittent clouds and the rest of the sky was partly to mostly cloudy, but Saturn remained observable for about 90 minutes.

I was using my Round Table EQ platform to keep Saturn in the field of view. It gave me about 50 minutes of observing time at each reset.

#12 azure1961p

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 05:00 AM

This is all terrific folks. Dave Im glad you had a nice view with that fine mirror. I just checked my weather - rain for an entire week - with thunder showers included - all because I had my mirrors recoated.

Pete

#13 Stargazer3236

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 12:59 PM

Doesn't that always seem to be the case? I was amazed when I finished my degree circles and put them on my scope. I had two great nights of observing with my new gadgets. Now for the next few days/nights, we will be getting intermittent rain and showers.

#14 Schaden

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:22 PM

I agree with Schaden: the A ring has a textured quality, which in good seeing resolves into the Encke minima. Meanwhile, the B ring is very bright white, but not featureless: it shows a minimum near the inner boundary with the crepe ring. The crepe ring shows very nicely across the orb, while requiring stiller air to see well at the ansae. Anyway, it's been a lot of fun, and I think it's great that Saturn has shown up this year just as Jupiter has set. Kind of maximizing our planetary pleasure.

-geo


Regarding the Encke minima, it appears as a darker contrast area within the A ring ? This sketch by Encke of the rings is almost exactly what I saw a few weeks ago during opposition. http://ejamison.net/encke.html

I saw those shaded areas out on the ansae of the A ring. Although the contrast with the rest of the A ring was more subtle than the sketch. But I say almost because I saw another gap, like Cassinis only much thinner out on the ansae of the A ring between the minima and the edge. That sounds like Enckes division doesn't it ?

I think I had glimpses of the minima the other night. It's kind of funny how once you've seen something before, you know where to look for it. But it was very subtle, like I thought I saw it for a split second a half dozen times in an hour of viewing. But the opposition night the minima was very obvious and the gap was steady with a much harder contrast than the minima. It was a black line, like cassinis only thinner and not as sharp. That is also the only night I've seen any feature within the B ring. It was a minima similar to Enckes, like a shaded area dividing the inside. So the whole effect was like seeing 4 rings, 2 in both the A and B.

I can see the Crepe ring on most every "above average" night. But when its visible, I notice it within the edge of the B along the ansae. It appears as just a brighter dark part of space that curves along the inside of the B. In contrast, the same part of space closer to the planet is deep black. I dont believe I've seen the C ring where it crosses in front of the planet. That sounds challenging. I can imagine a 12" brings in a lot of color on a great night. In just my 8", it was amazing how more vivid the bands looked on that exceptional night. Each had its own distinct color. Brown, orange, tan, gray etc. Usually only the fat band above the rings has any obvious color and the rest are just subtle contrast features on the disc.

#15 REC

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 10:44 AM

So this observing report was using the C8, must have been great seeing.

Just curious, how do the two scopes compare at similar power, say 150-200x?

I have always been curious about a 10" DOB as so many members have one.

Bob

#16 george golitzin

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 09:51 PM



I agree with Schaden: the A ring has a textured quality, which in good seeing resolves into the Encke minima. Meanwhile, the B ring is very bright white, but not featureless: it shows a minimum near the inner boundary with the crepe ring. The crepe ring shows very nicely across the orb, while requiring stiller air to see well at the ansae. Anyway, it's been a lot of fun, and I think it's great that Saturn has shown up this year just as Jupiter has set. Kind of maximizing our planetary pleasure.

-geo


Regarding the Encke minima, it appears as a darker contrast area within the A ring ? This sketch by Encke of the rings is almost exactly what I saw a few weeks ago during opposition. http://ejamison.net/encke.html

..........

I saw those shaded areas out on the ansae of the A ring. Although the contrast with the rest of the A ring was more subtle than the sketch. But I say almost because I saw another gap, like Cassinis only much thinner out on the ansae of the A ring between the minima and the edge. That sounds like Enckes division doesn't it ?


yes exactly to the first question, and wow! to the second. very tough to see the Encke division--congratulations to you and David, who seems to have had a superb night. What aperture are you using?

-geo

#17 REC

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 07:35 AM

Ok, finally had steady skies last night and although there was a lot of humidity in the air and glare from the moon. I first checked out Saturn about 10 pm after the scope was out for a while and imeditely saw a very steady image of Saturn. Three close moons surrounded it and they where steady, not blinking in and out. Then, there it was, the Cassini division! This is the first time in years that I can say I clearly seen it. The planet looked awesome just hanging out in space...better then a picture:) I was using 100-165x mostly.

Bob

#18 leviathan

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 12:16 PM

Bob, which telescope did you use ? And how many times have you observed Saturn ?

The reason I'm asking because in my case I can clearly see Cassini division every time I observe Saturn in my 4" and 8", no matter how bad seeing is.

#19 Schaden

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 05:06 PM

So this observing report was using the C8, must have been great seeing.

Just curious, how do the two scopes compare at similar power, say 150-200x?

I have always been curious about a 10" DOB as so many members have one.

Bob


Seeing on that night was predicted at 4/5 early evening until 1am when it was 5/5 until dawn. Based on the forecast, I setup at 11 and began observing at 1. As soon as I saw Saturn, it immediately looked better than ever. Even compared to the Zhumell. But I'm sure it would have had its best night if I had it out. I haven't used it much after getting the C8. I don't have a car and can't get to dark skies often, so I do a lot of planetary observing from my south facing 17th floor balcony. When Jupiter was out later, I'd go all the way up to the roof, since it was too high to see, almost directly overhead. But the sct on a tripod with tracking has been so convenient to use. The C8 is noticeabley dimmer and I don't see as much green color on M42, but I haven't had a chance for a side by side planetary comparison.

Seeing really is the largest variable, more important than scope. I read in the new Astronomy magazine, they had an article talking about the rings, and the author commented he had been able to see encke's minima in a 4" reflector with good seeing. I've only had a perfect view like that once, out of hundreds of hours of observation with bigger instruments. But this past 6 months, I have become a lot pickier about it. I always check the forecast now, before I'd just observe when I felt like it, but that night of 10/10 seeing was possible because I knew ahead of time. :rainbow:

That night in late April had to be a 10/10. 360x actually brought out more detail on the lunar surface. New tiny craters, invisible at 180x popped into view. The rings were so sharp.

Last night (Monday) the prediction was for 2/5 at sunset, followed by 3/5 until 10pm when it was supposed to be 4/5 until 4am when it became 5/5. I setup at 8:30 and observed from around 10 to midnight. It looked good at 180x but 360x was very soft, so I remained at 180x the rest of the night. Didn't notice a strong difference in contrast between A and B. And usually Cassinis appeared sharp and steady, other times it was like a fog obscured it. I think it was 7/10 at best, with much worse fluctuations. I paid particular attention to where the rings cross the planet and for sure saw a black line along the inside edge of the B. I think I've seen it before and assumed it was a shadow. Don't know if that was the C. Couldn't see it that well inside the space of the ring ansae and planet. Bands looked distinct, each alternated been a yellowish tan and a darker brown. But I could only discern two hues among 5-6 bands. I counted 6 moons.

#20 Achernar

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 08:53 PM

The seeing's pretty good tonight here in Mobile, and not only did I see Titan clearly as a tiny orange disk, and five more moons. The Cassini and Encke divisions were also visible. I noticed several faint belts and the dark polar region. However, I am sure small white clouds have appeared near the boundary of the dark polar region, they are small but bright. I was looking at Saturn with the 15-inch at 300X, if the seeing steadies up some more I will try higher magnifications. I think either a storm is blowing up near the pole, or something is upwelling from the interior and turning into white clouds. You all might want to look at Saturn tonight and for the following several nights, this might be something real that would be of interest.

Taras

#21 azure1961p

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 10:22 PM

Some of you guys are getting terrific seeing!! Glad to read these reports.

Pete

#22 REC

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 07:02 AM

I was using my 8" SCT. I have this one for 2 yrs. Last year when the rings were closed up more I could not make it out. Also I think my scope was a tad out of collimation too.

I have been observing Saturn on and off for 30 yrs. Mostly my sky is not that great and seeing is only good once in a while. I just got through obeserving Jupiter the last 6 mos. and was always trying to see the Red spot.

Going forward I'm going to tweak the scope as best I can and take it out at least an hour before I start. I'm looking forward to many more good nights on Saturn. My neighbors really get a kick out of seeing it.

Clear skies,

Bob

#23 leviathan

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 07:19 AM

So were you able to see GRS on Jupiter with that scope ? Have you checked collimation on a star ?

#24 REC

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 01:04 PM

Just once in awhile. I was able to see some of those bars in some of the belts when they were available. Yes I have collimated it on a star and I'd say it's about 90% on. I get really sharp views on the moon and can resolve M13 on a good night...I think a lot of it is because of my location and not having very steady skies. My Clear Sky Chart rarely is better than 4/5 and most nights is 3/5. Thank goodness I do get 4/5 on transparency a lot.

#25 leviathan

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 11:45 PM

I had a nice seeing about 9/10 yesterday. With my 8" I was able to resolve 2 and 3 km craters inside of Gassendi crater on Moon, which was close to Saturn on sky, and easily Nu Scorpii double, which is 1,3" if I'm not wrong. As a result Saturn was very sharp even on 444x. Encke's minimum was obvious from a first look on 307x, 4 moons were visible, shadow of rings on planet and of planet on rings, several color belts and dark polar cap on disk.

Not my best "Saturn night" this season, but definitely 2'nd or 3'rd. ;) As a result in the morning Caspian Sea was looking like a lake finally, which in fact it is - not even a single wave.






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