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Saturn's rings visible through ordinary telescopes?!

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#1 Matt78

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 01:46 PM

I saw an article in my news feed (CBS I think it was) saying Saturn was so close this Tuesday, its rings can be seen through ordinary telescopes. Kind of made me feel like my 5" SCT must be really special since I can see Saturn's rings no trouble. Gosh, my telescope isn't ordinary. Cool!

 

In all seriousness though, are there "ordinary" telescopes that can't see Saturn's rings? I'm assuming this is typical media science hyperbole, but it crossed my mind that I don't think I've ever looked at Saturn with anything less than a 4.5" aperture, and I don't remember ever having a hard time seeing the rings (detail on the rings is another matter). It's also the case that I haven't been observing Saturn consistently year to year, so I could just have been lucky during the years I was able to observe. So am I wrong? Would a 50 mm or 60 mm have trouble showing the rings during certain years? 

 

-M


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#2 havasman

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 01:53 PM

You are spot-on correct in noticing another in the unending series of hyperbolic overstatements in media coverage of astronomical events. As you know, believe what you see in the eyepiece over what they tell you.

 

Saturn's really pretty right now, isn't it.


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#3 Astrojensen

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 02:09 PM

 

Would a 50 mm or 60 mm have trouble showing the rings during certain years?

When the rings are edge-on or very nearly so, they can be difficult or impossible to see in small telescopes, but that's only for a few days around perfectly edge-on. 

 

At all other times, a good quality 50mm easily shows the rings at, say, 50x magnification.

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#4 Conaxian

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 02:10 PM

I still remember my first view of Saturn through a Jason 60mm.

The rings were gorgeous. I do remember the color was pale, not like the view in bigger scopes.

Any scope, even my short little Astroscan, would show the rings clearly. And with a bit of color.

The other night my 20X60 Pentax binos gave a crisp view, enough to tell they were rings. I'd say 30x should be enough for any observer to see them right now.


Edited by Conaxian, 11 July 2019 - 02:13 PM.

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#5 jtsenghas

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 04:10 PM

I saw an article in my news feed (CBS I think it was) saying Saturn was so close this Tuesday, its rings can be seen through ordinary telescopes. Kind of made me feel like my 5" SCT must be really special since I can see Saturn's rings no trouble. Gosh, my telescope isn't ordinary. Cool!

Didn't you hear? Saturn will look as big as the full moon this week! lol.gif

 

Seriously, with a semimajor axis of more than 9.5 Astronomical units, Saturn doesn't get more than 20% smaller in angular size than it is now, and it won't be even 10% smaller to us for several months. 

 

Opposition is a neat time to see it straight on, and the lack of shadows visible from its rings does make it look a little different. 

 

These last couple oppositions have been frustratingly low for me at my latitude of 41 degrees north. The elevation is more important than distance for me. In about13 years and 5 months, though, I'll have the best of both, though. 71 degrees altitude at opposition on Christmas Eve. I had better mark my calendar. 


Edited by jtsenghas, 11 July 2019 - 04:42 PM.

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#6 Matt78

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 02:05 PM

Saturn's really pretty right now, isn't it.

Sadly, I missed several days of clear viewing about 10 days ago, due to a family tragedy. Since then, haven't had too many opportunities to see it, but I am looking forward to it as soon as I can. 

 

When the rings are edge-on or very nearly so, they can be difficult or impossible to see in small telescopes, but that's only for a few days around perfectly edge-on. 

 

At all other times, a good quality 50mm easily shows the rings at, say, 50x magnification.

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

You know, I had actually heard that. 



#7 Rich (RLTYS)

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 10:26 AM

Saturn's rings were seen by Galileo with his telescopes, he called them ears, and those scopes were far inferior to our small scopes today.


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#8 Redbetter

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 12:52 AM

I can just barely see the ring shape (gap between rings and planet) at this wide opening with a 40mm Plossl in the 80ED for 15x.  They are easier to see at higher magnification, including with smaller aperture, and it takes very little aperture to see them.  A few minutes ago I took out the 80 f/5 achro and put a 15+mm aperture stop on it (it isn't 16mm but was cut a little wider and more irregular than I intended.)  I could see the faint and tiny image of Saturn and its rings with a 24 Pan at 16.7x.  With a 13T6 Nagler for ~31x the rings were easier to resolve (ironically this is ~52x/inch for the aperture.)

 

At 15mm f/26.7, the achro doublet is very much apochromatic.  Turning to Jupiter the NEB and SEB could just be seen at 31x.     


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#9 Sketcher

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 11:32 AM

Saturn 1 inch 67x March 30 2019 4

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#10 Special Ed

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 03:21 PM

I can't say I see the rings but Saturn looks oblong to me through my 12x36 image stabilized binoculars.

 

This is Saturn through my 50mm Gallileoscope @ 25x

 

Saturn_Galileoscope_2011.02.11.v2.JPG


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#11 gkarris

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 11:49 AM

In all seriousness though, are there "ordinary" telescopes that can't see Saturn's rings? I'm assuming this is typical media science hyperbole, but it crossed my mind that I don't think I've ever looked at Saturn with anything less than a 4.5" aperture, and I don't remember ever having a hard time seeing the rings (detail on the rings is another matter). It's also the case that I haven't been observing Saturn consistently year to year, so I could just have been lucky during the years I was able to observe. So am I wrong? Would a 50 mm or 60 mm have trouble showing the rings during certain years? 

 

-M

 

I bought a "toy" Meade Adventure Scope 60mm from walmart.com for $45 mainly for the parts (backpack, finder, extra prism).

 

I was up late enough to see Saturn was over a building so I grabbed the AS 60 OTA very last minute...

 

Granted I used a Manfrotto portable Tripod instead and a Meade 2X shorty and the Meade 10mm MA EP (pack-in from another scope) - I saw Saturn and its rings no problem...

 

Was kinda cool.

 

Interesting how you can just make-do with a "toy"... wink.gif


Edited by gkarris, 05 August 2019 - 11:49 AM.


#12 jtsenghas

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 01:02 PM

.. Granted I used a Manfrotto portable Tripod instead and a Meade 2X shorty and the Meade 10mm MA EP (pack-in from another scope) - I saw Saturn and its rings no problem...

I bet if you also swapped out the objective and possibly added a quality prism diagonal that Walmart scope would perform admirably! wink.gif



#13 gkarris

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 02:06 PM

I bet if you also swapped out the objective and possibly added a quality prism diagonal that Walmart scope would perform admirably! wink.gif

$250 Baader on a $40 scope? :p


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#14 Rich V.

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 02:11 PM

As Michael says above with his 12x36 binos, Saturn looks oblong.  At 15-20x, Saturn's rings appear as "ears" in most any binocular.  At 20x and above for most viewers, the gap between the rings and the planet become apparent.  No ordinary scope necessary.


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#15 ww321q

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 12:14 PM

I saw an article in my news feed (CBS I think it was) saying Saturn was so close this Tuesday, its rings can be seen through ordinary telescopes.

I see this as a true statement . From someone that is new to this "ordinary telescopes" to me means like the telescopes people buy at Walmart at Christmas time. Like one step up from binoculars . $50 or less. 
I did have all 3 of my telescopes setup last night. 



#16 fcathell

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 12:30 PM

The sad part of some of these media "hypes" of astronomical events is how scientifically illiterate they have become for the most part. I remember watching the local news about that meteor that exploded over Russia several years ago such that it broke windows in the neighboring town.  One of the reporter "anchors" stated that the meteor was probably caused by global warming. The partner anchor had to politely correct this absurd statement. 

 

Frank


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#17 gkarris

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 01:24 PM

I see this as a true statement . From someone that is new to this "ordinary telescopes" to me means like the telescopes people buy at Walmart at Christmas time. Like one step up from binoculars . $50 or less. 
I did have all 3 of my telescopes setup last night. 

 

Last night I had my Meade Infinity 80 out. I couldn't see the rings like in the Adventure Scope 60, mainly because of a lot of haze, then some thin clouds rolled in anyways - that viewing got cut short...


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#18 ww321q

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 02:19 PM

Last night I had my Meade Infinity 80 out. I couldn't see the rings like in the Adventure Scope 60, mainly because of a lot of haze, then some thin clouds rolled in anyways - that viewing got cut short...

I had never looked at Saturn through the telescope I found in the dumpster. It's a 76mm F9.2 Bushnell reflector. It has badly damaged coatings on the primary mirror. Even as bad as it is I could still see some details on the planet and rings. I know the sky can be really frustrating . I've had nights where it looked really clear but through the eyepiece it was terrible. Then again once between clouds it was really clear. Funny. How do you like your Meade Infinity 80? I may get a inexpensive refractor to check out . 



#19 gkarris

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 03:08 PM

I had never looked at Saturn through the telescope I found in the dumpster. It's a 76mm F9.2 Bushnell reflector. It has badly damaged coatings on the primary mirror. Even as bad as it is I could still see some details on the planet and rings. I know the sky can be really frustrating . I've had nights where it looked really clear but through the eyepiece it was terrible. Then again once between clouds it was really clear. Funny. How do you like your Meade Infinity 80? I may get a inexpensive refractor to check out . 

More about the Meade Infinity 80 here:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ll-these-years/

 

I love it - great intro scope. The AZ-3 mount gets a bad rap here, but the Meade Infinity AZ-3 mount has a much better tripod (round legs - very sturdy). I oiled it with Silicon Grease and put longer slo-mo controls on it (from Aegenaastro) I also use that mount for a C90 (really, really needs the slo-mo)... I love the Meade RDF (easy to catch that dot, also used on the C90). The 2x barlow stinks - replaced it with the Meade Shorty...

 

$149 shipped....

 

If you don't need all the accessories I guess it's the same as the Orion ST80:

 

https://www.telescop...60/p/118189.uts

 

if you don't need the mount, you can get the Meade Adventure Scope 80

 

https://www.amazon.c...1/dp/B06XR5L9TK

 

The tripod is garbage (threw mine out that I got with the Adventure Scope 60, which I paid $49 closeout shipped with tax at walmart.com) and the H eyepieces are useless in a refractor (works okay in a small reflector). The Meade RDF and Backpack are nice... wink.gif


Edited by gkarris, 20 August 2019 - 03:20 PM.


#20 Redbetter

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 04:05 PM

The sad part of some of these media "hypes" of astronomical events is how scientifically illiterate they have become for the most part. I remember watching the local news about that meteor that exploded over Russia several years ago such that it broke windows in the neighboring town.  One of the reporter "anchors" stated that the meteor was probably caused by global warming. The partner anchor had to politely correct this absurd statement. 

 

 

It isn't necessarily a new phenomenon. In the 90's when the Galileo probe reached Jupiter and began sending back images I recall either Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw leading off with:  "Stunning new images tonight from Jupiter's moon Ten." 

 

I looked at my wife an said, "Ten?...that's not one of the Galilean moons, I am not even sure which one that is."  ...immediately followed by recognition of what happened..."Oh, I'll bet he saw 'Io' on the teleprompter and read it as 'ten'."  Sure enough, the images were of Io.    


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#21 jtsenghas

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 05:38 PM

Ha! That reminds me of the time I heard of "Malcolm the Tenth" being referenced! Jupiter's moon Ten! Priceless! 



#22 TxStars

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Posted 09 September 2019 - 12:54 AM

I only read the one's that say "AS Big as The FULL MOON"




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