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Details in Saturn and Mars


markchrisryan
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Hi everyone, new member to stargazerslounge.com it is a great site with a lot of information that I have enjoyed reading. I am new to backyard astronomy, last week I put together my Skyquest XT8 Dobsonian and already had 3 chances to view the sky from my backyard. It is too light polluted for DSO and I cannot make out very many constellations. However the big dipper is visible and the star connecting the pan to the handle has been visible but very faint.

When I view saturn it is very crisp at 266x and last night I even had some good viewing at 400x early in the night. There is no blur around the edges or the rings, I can even see the shadow of the rings on the planet. However it looks similar to those glow in the dark stars and planets(not complaining) that you can put on the ceiling in your room. A nice color, but I am wondering if I should be able to see some detail such as cloud bands from side to side on the planet? Am I missing detail here?

Also Mars from what I understand it not very close at this time. When I view Mars it's just red with very slight and blurry color differences, looks to be red/orange with a blue blurry orb up top.

Any ideas or advice on getting more detail? Or is this what I should expect to see of these planets?(not complaining again) I just want to make sure that I am getting the most out of my stargazing and not missing anything really cool! :D

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Firstly, welcome to SGL :D

Your scope is certainly capable of showing the details you are describing. With Mars it's very very small now but that said I could still see the polar cap (I think you glimpsed this yourself) and some darker markings when I went out last night. No getting away from the fact Mars is now very challenging.

And with Saturn I could easily see banding with both scopes (90mm refractor and 8" dob). Try lowering your magnification back down to 160-200x, this will give the sharpest possible view. I know the image scale is a bit lacking but it's better to have a super sharp view. I could see the banding on Saturn with the 90mm at 140x. Actually the banding was easier to see in the 90mm refractor due to its more contrasty view.

Edited by russ
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Would the light pollution have anything to do with not being able to make out more detail too?

No. You often get good views of bright objects (Moon & planets) in very bright twilight or even full daylight ... you don't get worse light pollution than having the sun shine on you whilst observing planets!

No scope will give good views at high power unless it is carefully collimated and allowed to cool to ambient temperature. Even then, unsteadiness in the atmosphere ("bad seeing") will often spoil the view. Don't get discouraged ... the more you try, the more you'll see.

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Light pollution is a real negative at any observing site,if its pretty bad for you then there are many relailers selling filters that help to darken the sky a bit more., check out the sponsor for this website, FLO.

If you can't see many constellations look more carefully at that one's you can,Ursa Major, (the plough)for instance will show you some good DSO'S such as M81,M82.

As was said Mars is past it's best now so try Saturn again,just sit and spend a bit of time viewing it and you should get some glimpses of detial.

Alan

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Thanks for the help, I was looking again tonight I can almost make out slight details in Saturn. It's still amazing. I've put a lot of flight time into that planet in just the past week. A 25 minute car ride should get rid of 80% of this light pollution! However I saw those light pollution filters, has anyone used them? Curious as to how well they work.. I did catch a glimpse of Orion's Nebula tonight definitely wasn't the darkest part of the sky but I saw 6 stars total, one being much brighter then the others. The brightest star is where I would see a nebula cloud in darker skies?

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The good thing about the planets is the fact light pollution is not that big a deal. You can live in a bad LP area and still enjoy a hobby of observing the planets, moon and sun.

But the LP is a real pain for the faint stuff. A narrowband filter or OIII filter will work wonders with emission nebula/planetary nebula and they really do work on the right object. Sadly this doesn't extend to galaxies, which are the hardest hit by poor skies. You can buy a light pollution filter to boost the contrast against the background sky, which does help slightly. But a trip to a dark site is the only real solution.

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No. You often get good views of bright objects (Moon & planets) in very bright twilight or even full daylight ... you don't get worse light pollution than having the sun shine on you whilst observing planets!

No scope will give good views at high power unless it is carefully collimated and allowed to cool to ambient temperature. Even then, unsteadiness in the atmosphere ("bad seeing") will often spoil the view. Don't get discouraged ... the more you try, the more you'll see.

I would echo this about not getting discouraged - I've just seen Mars for the very first time this evening and it is VERY small - but I was pleased just to have seen it.

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I got perhaps my best views ever of Mars last night. The Moon was gone out of view and Mars and M44 were still pretty high up in the sky to the west. Seeing was perfect and Mars FINALLY appeared in my scope as a very small but perfectly formed disc. It was rusty in colour but the colour was not uniform across the planet. There were parts of it that looked darker then the surrounding areas. I know this to be true but i cant say that i would consider the darker areas i saw as "detail" because the planet is so small in my scope. I didnt detect any polar cap last night which i have been able to do a couple of times in the past as a bright white region. It just looked amazing and to see it in the same FOV as the Beehive was quite a sight.

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  • 2 weeks later...

[i've put a lot of flight time into that planet in just the past week. A 25 minute car ride should get rid of 80% of this light pollution! However I saw those light pollution filters, has anyone used them? Curious as to how well they work..

Although blessed with dark skies & next to no light pollution, I occasionally find using a polarising filter can sometimes tease the detail out of both Saturn & Mars, the details of Mars can be very subtle even in good seeing conditions.

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I got perhaps my best views ever of Mars last night. The Moon was gone out of view and Mars and M44 were still pretty high up in the sky to the west. Seeing was perfect and Mars FINALLY appeared in my scope as a very small but perfectly formed disc. It was rusty in colour but the colour was not uniform across the planet. There were parts of it that looked darker then the surrounding areas. I know this to be true but i cant say that i would consider the darker areas i saw as "detail" because the planet is so small in my scope. I didnt detect any polar cap last night which i have been able to do a couple of times in the past as a bright white region. It just looked amazing and to see it in the same FOV as the Beehive was quite a sight.

was that with your dob?

rich

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I try Mars with my ND filter and it still just looks like a featureless orange disc. I guess we'll have to be patient until he comes back around in early 2012.

I think this nicely sums Mars up at the minute. you can spend time looking at it and it's nice to see if you have your first scope etc but I reckon there's a lot better stuff to see than this tiny dot. try turning your scope on M13 in Hercules!

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