Last updated: 11 March 2004
Subject: ETX 105 Saturn report Date: 3/11/04, 10:07 From: Tomas Hekkers (firstname.lastname@example.org) here another user observation report of one of my favorites; Saturn. Owning my ETX 105 for a large month now, I just did one serious observation night in the dark field with my astro-comrades. Since I live in the 'big' city Arnhem, almost in the center, I don't have much to see in deep skies. Although the pollution is not enough to block my vision on the large and close planets, such as Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. I already did as much 'city-peeks' as possible on these planets. For now I will tell you about my first experiences with the 105 on Saturn. In these very first wintermonths of 2004, it is ideal to observe the queen of the planets. Saturn's rings are best visible and opened now. At this very moment (11 march) she has a magnitude of +0.2 and can be found for northern hemisphere obeservers almost in the zenith in the constellation Gemini where it remains the rest of the year. The view of the rings is at its peak and the coming years it will close up. In 2009 we'll be watching edge-onto the ring which is just visible then as a slight line over the planetary globe. The years after it will open up again. So, take you chances..... I did some short and serious observations last February. At the 20th we observed the planet in the field. Transparency of the sky was as well as the seeing reasonable. I observed Saturn with the 105 and series 4000 9.7 mm Meade SP at 152x, which I recommend as a fine 'mediocre-large-magnification-eyepiece'. The 12.4 mm is too less (119x) and when the seeing isn't right the 6.4 mm (230X) is too much. Remember cooling down time of your scope, which takes in the winter about one-and-a-half hours here in Holland for my 105! The observation was nice. The Cassini division was clear on the curves of the rings and the shadow of the globe on the rings was also visible. What like about the view of Saturn with the 105 is the 3D-effect in the planet. The 105 shows real depth in this queen, which my ETX 90 did not. Saturn's dark yellow color comes out nice and the Southern Equatorial Belt (SEB) showed up. Logically, the better the seeing the more these details become visible. It was also clearly visible that the globe falls within the rings; you can even see a small piece of the ring above the Southern Polar Region (SPR). Moons of Saturn also show crisp and clear. They move in an ellips around the planet. Three days later my friend Jaykay calls me 'Toomz, throw out your scope, the seeing is superb!' After the coolingdown time in the backgarden, I took a peak at Saturn again. I've been observing the queen for 15 years now, but what I saw, I never saw with a 4 inch scope before. The details on the planet were the same as on the 20th. But this time the seeing was SUPER. The cassini division was clear and steady visible on the entire ring and the global shadow on the rings was as sharp as a razorblade. It was also a good change of doing some more experimenting with my Baader Contrast Booster. I can recommend this little gadget for observing Jupiter and Saturn. It will take a little larger aperture to become effective, but with a little effort you already see the difference with the ETX 90. The filter comes in a standard 1.25' EP-screw-in version. It tones down the glare of Saturn and makes details more sharp and crisp. On my 105 it works very fine with the 12.4 mm SP. I collected enough material on the 20th and 23th February to make two fine sketches of Saturn. It is very nice what can be achieved with a little effort. If it is, when reading this, dark and clear now, I strongly recommend to leave Mike's site for a rainy afternoon and take your ETX out for 'a peek at the queen', it is worth it, right now! A clear Cassini division, greetings from the Netherlands, Tomas.
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