Last updated: 11 March 2004

Subject: ETX 105 Saturn report
Date: 3/11/04, 10:07
From: Tomas Hekkers (
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,

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