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Saturn Stole The Show

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Last night was a night of decent seeing, having set up my scope in the backyard, I was looking forward to a night of various object hunting. Little did I know, the only object I would dedicate almost the entire night to, was Saturn. Saturn was a sight to behold last night, beautifully contrasted, revealing a clear and, unmistakable equatorial belt. Cassini’s division was laser cut sharp, subtle tones in its clouds were visible, given the chance for the eye to adapt. One quick glance at a planet would be a mistake, it’s surprising what I could pick up given enough time at the eyepiece.

This night I was also using my new (to me) Pentax XW 5mm, I jumped on this eyepiece because I figured it would be great for those nights when seeing would not permit me to use my 3.5mm for planets. The 5mm proved to be every bit as good as I expected but, Saturn laughed it off this night, the image begged for more power. In went the 3.5, after a while I wondered, even at 230x, using my 115mm APO, Saturn still had more to give. My 3.5 is the highest power eyepiece I have, short of using it with my 2.5x Powermate (which is way too much power) I was at a loss, I needed a bit more, just a measly 50x. Amateur astronomers sometimes do crazy things in our quest for celestial satisfaction, in went the 5mm with the powermate.A quick calculation on my phone, I realized it would be 402X!!, insanity, 90x per inch of aperture, I gave up hope before looking into the eyepiece. Putting my phone away, glancing into the eyepiece, I was stunned to see I could bring Saturn to a fine focus, detail still visible in its clouds, Cassini’s division still sharp, not as sharp but, no less beautiful indeed. 

Considering the spectacle Saturn put on last night, I have to wonder if maybe my 3.5 won’t necessarily be that eyepiece only used once in a while when the sky permits. Maybe, I should be considering a 2.5 if such an animal exists. There’s no way I would consider an eyepiece yielding 90x per inch but, maybe a bit more than the 230x my 3.5 yields may not be as crazy as I thought it would be just a few days ago. Regardless, I am well aware that pushing power is at the mercy of the sky but, last night I was given a glimpse of what my scope/eyepiece are capable of when the sky gods are generous. Just as Saturn was about to wave goodbye and, dip below a neighboring house, I hurried for my camera and laptop for a quick shot.


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