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Geoff Barnes

Early Morning Planets

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I woke up in the early hours and could see Vega shining brightly through the bedroom window and decided to get the 12 inch Dob out and have a look at Jupiter and Saturn which were both high overhead at 5am here. The sun wasn't up for another 2 hours and the nearly full moon had sunk below the hilltop, the sky was clear and steady and with no wind conditions were as good as it gets.

I was keen to try out my new Skywatcher Planetary 4mm for the first time since it arrived from FLO two weeks ago.

With the Baader zoom at 8mm I did a quick star test on Vega to get collimation as good as possible and swung the 12 inch Dob right up overhead to Saturn. A bit of fine tuning with the new Lacerta 10:1 focuser and it was looking nice and sharp. Out with the zoom and in went the SW 4mm, refocus, fine tune and oh boy! My, my, without a doubt the most stunning view of Saturn I've had, it was all there, pin sharp, Cassini, the Encke minima, the C Ring, several bands on the disc and a definite pale blue polar region. Four moons, Dione, Tethys, Mimas and even Enceladus all strung out in a line below the rings. Just breathtaking!

I spent so long marveling at Saturn I hadn't noticed Jupiter was about to disappear behind the tree tops, so I quickly swung over to him and managed to catch Ganymede. Callisto, Europa and Io all close by, no shadows on the planet but wonderful views of all the main bands and just a hint of the GRS beginning to appear on the very edge. Being so close to the trees the seeing was a bit fuzzy (eucalyptus trees give off a lot of vapour), not as clear as Saturn but still a wonderful bright contrasty view.

I've debated long and hard whether it is worth spending a lot of money (which I don't have) on exotic eyepieces instead of decent budget ones and now I know. Given really good seeing conditions and a well collimated scope, for just £37 you can have the most wonderful views imaginable! 

 

 

Edited by Geoff Barnes
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Fantastic report, Geoff. I’d love to see Saturn at that elevation with so much detail on display. I quite agree on eyepieces. I have some great widefield eyepieces but for planetary my secondhand orthos costing around £50 can’t be beaten. 

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Enough to make us poor Saturn loving souls stuck in Blighty weep into our eyepiece cases Geoff 😉. Wonderful report and well worth getting up for!

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What can I say, except, good on ya...:smiley:

Like Neil, I have never seen Saturn at a high elevation, and It is a must.

Beautifully described Geoff, your thrill came shining through.

Edited by Saganite
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Great report Geoff. Its a pity that Jupiter and Saturn will not be high in the UK for several years. I agree with your statement that when the sky conditions are perfect and your scope is well collimated you can get some excellent views with less expensive EPs.

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Although I didn't have quite the altitude or aperture that Geoff enjoyed, during my visit to Tenerife a week ago I had the best views of Jupiter and Saturn with my C8 that I'm likely to get this year unless I visit again later.    😀

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Glad you got some good time with the giants.

Saturn and Jupiter will make many long to be astronomers!

With my 8" dob, I've yet to get good details on Saturn, but I keep looking.

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Glad you all enjoyed the report, I woke up early again today hoping to spend more time on Jupiter but alas it's cloudy.

I have to say I am astonished by how good the SW Planetary 4mm is, I had expected it to be a bit dim and fuzzy but not a bit of it, I  can hardly imagine any EP giving better views. Perhaps I don't need a 5mm after all?

Edited by Geoff Barnes

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Nice report, thanks. I too can't wait for the planets to return high in the sky. The difference it makes is truly incredible.

Rob

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