2012-02-18 Sight Report, Saturn!

Date: 2012-02-18 23:30-01:45 CST (2012-02-19 05:30 – 07:45 UTC)
Location: 41d44′ N 93d36′ W
Weather: Clear with a little haze, humid, approx. -2dC, no wind

I saw Saturn! For the first time! Exclamation points!

What I saw:

Mars

– Zhumell Z10
– 60x mag with 20mm EP
– 120x mag with 10mm EP
– 208x mag with 6mm EP
– Webcam (visual only)

Mars almost showed an icecap to me tonight, but it was difficult to tell. Such a tiny planet compared to the others, it’s hard to get a lot of detail, but there was a nice red-orange disk with slightly lighter color on one pole, when the seeing stabilized. I attempted to resolve some detail with the webcam, but it wasn’t having anything of it. I believe some high thin cloud cover was rolling in as well, so that wasn’t helping either. Regardless, it was my best look at Mars to date.

Saturn, currently in Virgo

– Zhumell Z10 telescope
– 40x mag with 30mm EP
– 60x mag with 20mm EP
– 120x mag with 10mm EP
– 208x mag with 6mm EP
– Webcam stills and video

My first look at Saturn was amazing! The yellow-gold planet and rings showed banding on the surface and more detail than I imagined it would given the timing and seeing conditions. It looked almost surreal. The pictures you see (here and elsewhere) don’t seem to do these kind of things justice as seeing with your own eyes does. My only regret is not taking a look at it with my 6mm EP with the Barlow to get 416x, but it will be higher in the sky (earlier in the evening) in the coming months.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9WcGKiYlF0

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2012-02-18 Saturn webcam video single frame capture
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2012-02-18 Saturn webcam video frames stacked in Registax 6

M3, globular cluster in Canes Venatici

– Zhumell Z10
– 60x mag with 20mm EP

The globular cluster M3 was very clear and surprisingly easy to resolve many, many stars. It is the first globular cluster I have seen that actually looks like one instead of just a fuzzy round mass. It was beautiful! Averted vision was surprisingly not required to resolve stars, but it definitely helped. I am excited to spend more time on it and other clusters in the near future. It took a while to figure out if it was M3 that I was seeing and not nearby NGC 5466, but my pocket sky atlas was a great resource as usual.

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