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Saturn-Cassini, cloud band and a 5yr olds first look


AlexM
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Quite a crisp and not too dewy night in Biggin Hill last night. I'd promised my 5 yr old that I'd show him Saturn if the night was clear. At around midnight I fired up the 10 inch dob having let it cool for a few hours beforehand. I collimated it carefully with the Hotech and pointed it at Saturn. I mucked around at 30x and 86x before getting involved and looking at it at 240x with the 5mm Hyperion. I must have lucked out on the focus first time because I was staring at the crispest image of Saturn I've seen in my limited experience. No diffraction spikes or any of that lark were present. The Cassini division was apparent on both sides of the ring every 30 seconds or so. There was a nice fat cloud band around 3 times the height of the ring across the disc where the ring went behind Saturn( I wondered if it was a shadow from the ring crossing above - anyone?). The points where the rings went behind the disc were easily apparent and there was a very clear dark division between them on both sides. Where the ring crossed the disc above there was a clear dark line running across the disc. I had a look for about 5 mins before running upstairs and getting the boy out of bed for a quick look at his first ever Saturn. He leapt out of bed and it took him a while to spot it in the 5mm but he got a clear look at it('A blob with a ring daddy') I gave him a look for a minute or two before tiredness overtook him and I popped him back to bed. I spent the next hour glued to the eyepiece. I ramped up the mag between 240x and 480x using the 5mm, 6mm and an orion shorty 2x barlow. The image held up surprisingly well at 400x or so, but it was consistently stunning at 240x. I also thought I spotted some darker areas at the poles but couldn't work out if it was an optical illusion or not. Titan was easy to spot, but I found Tethys, Rhea and Dione looking pretty faint- presumably because of the bright moon(checked them on Stellarium later). Seeing began to deteriorate after 1am - the moon got a fat halo around it. I called it a night and spent the next half hour doing some **** sketches using a biro in my logbook and pondering the splendour of the solar system and the might of dobsonians:).

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