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So-so Saturn on a Somewhat Murky Night

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#1 E_Look

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 12:41 AM

Well, tonight, again it wasn't tube currents; the atmosphere was hazy and wavy. It was hard to get a fix on the Cassini division, though the grosser planetary and ring features were visible through the undulating distortions.

But Iapetus was visible! It's only the second time I've seen it, that was worthwhile for me, despite the less than fair seeing.

Funny thing, though- Dione was hard to spot. For most of the time, and I was out over two hours, it was visible only by averted viewing. The same was true for Tethys as well.

I have seen Enceladus a few times in the past. It *should* have been visible given its position but I think the seeing prevented that. It barely popped in and out once for an about a one-minute period and that was it. I couldn't see it again, averted gazing or not.

So all in all, what would have been a sort of stinky night of viewing was saved by the appearance of Iapetus. The color and mere sight of Saturn, however, is always satisfying.

I recall I used to like to "back down" my magnification, from high or medium powers down to 67x or 42x and admire its lemon shape against a backdrop of stars. But the last couple of years, I seem to see less and less stars, at any power, in the same field as a planet that I happen to be observing.

#2 REC

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 10:21 AM

I think I saw Enceladus last night as there was 6 moons visible around Saturn and the CD was easily visable at 120x in my 8" SCT. Just chesked my Saturn moon app and yes, that was it. There were 5 moons out last night and the other must have been a star.

BTW..the free I App is called Quick Sky and gives you info on all the planets!

Hope it clears up for you tonight as it looks pretty good for NC today.

Bob

#3 azure1961p

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 01:14 PM

Ed,

Nice report and a view I'm all too familiar with in terms on blah seeing. Tonight is supposed to be good tho in that sense so it might be really worth it to set up. I'm going to give it a go if I can. Depends when I get out.

Pete

#4 E_Look

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 02:36 PM

Bob, sounds like a cool app, but I got the basic version of Sky Safari and it can also give me the moon positions around Saturn, after you zero in on Saturn, and then blow it up enough.

Pete, so far this afternoon, it's clear. I hope it stays that way. So, I hope it'll be worthwhile get your scope out under the stars. Clear nights for our region have been quite few!

#5 E_Look

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 12:32 AM

The sky conditions to the eye seemed worse tonight, with visible streaks of clouds all around. And indeed, at least initially, the planet wavered and undulated somewhat, and such seeing made catching the moons rather difficult. In fact, at the beginning I only saw Titan easily, and got a few glimpses of Rhea. The strange thing was that the Cassini division was not hard to see at all, even if the features on the planetary disk were sort of dull. It was again its signature golden hue. I let my optical tube thermally equilibrate toward the end of twilight, so it was out for an hour or thereabouts until I got my first look through the eyepiece.

But as the night wore on, the seeing, while not completely stabilizing, somehow permitted me to be able to see via an averted gaze both Dione and Tethys, by the western tip of the rings. And Iapetus became apparent as well. I looked and looked for Enceladus, but I never saw it. I suspect the transparency rather than the seeing improved; from the way Saturn was still wavering, the seeing really never got better. I fiddled with powers from 167x to 313x, settling at the apparent optimal magnification of 200x. From 250x-313x, it was essentially impossible to focus properly and at 167x or below, it was hard to see the moons.

Toward the very end of my two-hour session, (determined by the lowness of Saturn toward the neighbor's rooftop, and the accumulation of dewy wetness on the foam, OTA, ..., everything,) it got good enough that I was able to see all four normally visible moons, Titan, Rhea, Dione, and Tethys, along with Iapetus easily by averted viewing and at moments, even by direct sight. And, all of this was possible from even 250x, though the fainter moons required averted seeing here, but optimally at 200x, and all five moons visible down to even 63x, with Dione and Iapetus disappearing at 42x.

At 63x an 42x, it was quite a sight as a small group object of more complexity than just a star, against a backdrop with a few stars in it. I still can recall seeing a low-powered Saturn one spring, with the air clearer, against a star-spangled darker background. It'd be nice to see that again. But still, despite initially forbidding skies, it turned out okay at the eyepiece.

#6 azure1961p

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 08:08 AM

I had a drunk neighbor hanging of his back porch that pretty well ruined my enthusiasm for setting up. I've GOT to find another place to observe. The condo stinks.

Pete

#7 Asbytec

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 08:55 AM

I've had the same problem with a drunk security guard. Don't let him breath on your corrector.






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