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Saturn's Moons. Which have you seen?


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I had a brief spell of clear skies whilst camping in Shropshire on Sunday night. I had my 10" Dob set up inside my new 'toilet tent' which meant I could whip the tent off whenever the clouds cleared. It's a good system, I just uproot the four tent pegs and bingo.
When I looked at Saturn, I made a quick sketch of what I thought was Titan and a, quite faint, background star, nearer to Saturn than Titan. When I checked Stellarium earlier today, it suggested I'd seen Rhea. Which surprised and pleased me. All these years of looking at Saturn I'm ashamed to say I've not paid much attention to the moons.
So my question here is, which Saturn moons have you seen, and what scope did you use to see them?
And what resources do you use to recognise them?
I think some of my early astro books pretty much say only Titan is visible in small telescopes. I think I must have read that years ago and took it on board, and not bothered looking for Saturn's moons. Which is daft on my part, because I love tracking the Jovian moons.

Edited by Swithin StCleeve
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Only Titan for sure. I often check the Saturn webpage at Sky&Telescope to see which moons are where, but I never had the confidence to declare a small star to be any other moon.

(https://skyandtelescope.org/wp-content/plugins/observing-tools/saturn_moons/saturn.html)

What I would need would be observations two or three nights in a row to at least roughly track their movements. 

Moon Period (from The Planets by Patrick Moore 1st edition, 1962)

TITAN 15d 22h

Iapetus 79d

Rhea 4 d 12 h

Dione 2d 17 h

(I just plucked the four largest. All are listed with more data. Iapetus was tagged with a question ? mark.)

Nonetheless, congratulations to you and your very nice telescope. 

 

Edited by mikemarotta
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I wouldn't be sure I'd seen Rhea if I hadn't checked Stellarium. Its position matched the faint 'star' I saw and sketched. There's often a diagram of Saturn's moons with their month long locations in either Sky at Night magazine or Astronomy Now. But I tend not to rely on those as they can be open to a little interpretation. 
Stellarium gives Rhea a mag of 10.3 on the night I clocked it.

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In addition to Titan with 10 inch scope you should easily spot Rhea, Dione and Tethys, which are around mag 10. They are quite close to Saturn and often hide in its glare but I've seen them with a 7 inch Mak so a 10 inch wil make an easy job of them.

Iapetus is another easy one when it is west of Saturn and it is mag 10. Just beware that at the other end of its orbit when it is east of Saturn Iapetus  dims by 2 magnitudes to mag 12 and will be difficult to spot. Iapetus is also much further away from Saturn  and the main difficulty is not to confuse it with a background star.

Stellarium shows all the Moon very accurately, it's what I use to identify what I see when observing.

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Here is a screenshot from Stellarium with the Saturn's moons at midnight tonight. As you can see they are usually all bunched together near Saturn which is the main difficulty with seeing the brightest of them. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for that, most interesting. I bet I've been looking at these none-Titan moons for years, thinking them to be background stars. To be fair though, I've only just started using my 10" under dark skies. When I used this scope before, it was under urban skies. 
Sunday wasn't clear at all. I'm quite excited to re-visit Saturn with a view to cataloguing the moons in my observation book. 

Edit = here's my dob in the toilet tent. The tent has a door, but if the sky clears I just uproot the four tent pegs and the whole tent lifts off in seconds.

20210529_193702.jpg

20210619_173758.jpg

Edited by Swithin StCleeve
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I've seen Titan, Rhea, Tethys, Dione, Iapetus and Enceladus. I may have spotted Mimas a couple of times with my 12 inch but that one is both faint and stays close to the planet.

Last night with my 100mm refractor I could see Titan, Rhea, Dione and Iapetus. Tethys and Enceladus were too close to the planets disk to tease them out in the conditions last night.

Now Neptune is becoming visible at a reasonable hour again I'm looking forward to seeing Triton which I've seen with my 12 inch and 5.1 inch scopes in the past.

 

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Wow, I had no idea so many of Saturn's moons were visible John. As I say, I'm sure I must have read 'you can only see Titan' when I was getting into astronomy all those years ago, and I have somehow accepted it as fact and never bothered to look further into it. 
The Wolverhampton Astro Society has a 16" Dob, which I've used, but Saturn was too low to get the dob pointing in that direction, (we'd put it in a little dome, and it really wasn't suitable). I'd love to get that on Saturn one day soon!

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6 minutes ago, Swithin StCleeve said:

Wow, I had no idea so many of Saturn's moons were visible John. As I say, I'm sure I must have read 'you can only see Titan' when I was getting into astronomy all those years ago, and I have somehow accepted it as fact and never bothered to look further into it. 
The Wolverhampton Astro Society has a 16" Dob, which I've used, but Saturn was too low to get the dob pointing in that direction, (we'd put it in a little dome, and it really wasn't suitable). I'd love to get that on Saturn one day soon!

I find Stellarium and the Cartes du Ciel software useful for plotting the positions of the planetary moons. I usually check AFTER observing and sketching the positions of what I think I see to avoid wishful thinking influencing my observing !

 

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I do the same John. It's the only way you can be honest and know you're not lying to yourself. I'm 80% sure I saw Caldwell 4 - a reflection nebula in Cephus through the 15X70 Helios bins a few weeks ago, but my sketch of the star field didn't match the maps and apps later on when I checked. So I can't say I've seen it.. 

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I've seen Titan and Iapetus with 130mm & 150mm newtonians and I believe Enceladus with a 204mm dob. Confirmed with Sky Safari.

Though I've not had a proper lengthy planetary session this year except for one Ganymede shadow transit.

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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I managed five with my FC100DC (4” refractor) some time back. I posted up about it at the time.

I use SkySafari pro to check positions and identify the Moons. Saturn Moons is also a handy app dedicated to the same thing.

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

I managed five with my FC100DC (4” refractor) some time back. I posted up about it at the time.

I use SkySafari pro to check positions and identify the Moons. Saturn Moons is also a handy app dedicated to the same thing.

I find the problem with Skysafari (Plus) and Saturn's moons is that it displays them all the same brightness. Which can be a little confusing, at first!

image.png.b50c7a516237c99ba69affa9ac183a3a.png

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I grabbed some gaps in the clouds here with my 100m refractor and got 5 Saturnian moons just now. Iapetus was a bit hit and miss due to thin cloud cover and Enceladus was just too close to the main planet and rings to see this evening - lost in the glare of Saturn.

Nice to get some glimpses of Iapetus because I'm re-reading 2001: A Space Odyssey again currently and have just at the part where Dave Bowman encounters T.M.A -1's big brother on that moon :smiley:

 

 

Edited by John
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Last night with an 80mm refractor I could see Titan and just make out Rhea. Then swapped over to the 8” dob and could see Titan, Rhea, Tethys and Dione. It’s the first time I’ve seen any Saturnian moons other than Titan so pretty chuffed! Thought another was visible but turned out to be TYC 6335-0614-1 when referenced with SkySafari.

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^^^ I caught the same 4 moons last night in my 200p, checked at the eyepiece with Sky Safari 6plus. Some nice planetary detail visible too when the seeing settled. 

Jupiter looked good at times too, with the GRS showing nicely. I was waiting for the Io shadow transit when the clouds rolled in 2 minutes before Sky Safari said it was due to start. 🙄

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On 03/08/2021 at 19:20, Swithin StCleeve said:

I had a brief spell of clear skies whilst camping in Shropshire on Sunday night. I had my 10" Dob set up inside my new 'toilet tent' which meant I could whip the tent off whenever the clouds cleared. It's a good system, I just uproot the four tent pegs and bingo.
When I looked at Saturn, I made a quick sketch of what I thought was Titan and a, quite faint, background star, nearer to Saturn than Titan. When I checked Stellarium earlier today, it suggested I'd seen Rhea. Which surprised and pleased me. All these years of looking at Saturn I'm ashamed to say I've not paid much attention to the moons.
So my question here is, which Saturn moons have you seen, and what scope did you use to see them?
And what recourses do you use to recognise them?
I think some of my early astro books pretty much say only Titan is visible in small telescopes. I think I must have read that years ago and took it on board, and not bothered looking for Saturn's moons. Which is daft on my part, because I love tracking the Jovian moons.

Hi mate. I've seen 5 of Saturn's moons so far: Titan, Rhea, Dione, Tethys and Iapetus. I use a 10 inch Newtonian reflector. I use Sky Safari Plus app to identify the moon's. Cheers

 

Edited by Epick Crom
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I've been thinking that I could maybe see more than just Titan previously, so I've made a concerted effort tonight, due to good conditions. With a 150PL, 2x focal extender and 16mm EP (= x150) I can see Titan easily but also managed Dione, Rhea and Tethys fleetingly, with some confidence and averted vision. Confirmed with Stellarium but not sure if the averted vision & fleeting aspects count as "seeing" in the context of the OP question!

Edited by wulfrun
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