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Constellations, the Sun and the Black...
Constellations, the Sun and the Black...
Saturn is one of the largest planets in our solar system, the sixth planet to orbit the sun and is best known for the rings that orbit it.
Obviously, the main reason you're here is to learn to see Saturn through a telescope, and despite its distance from Earth, it's actually not as difficult as you might think with the right equipment and resources.
To see Saturn you must first locate it. This can be done through the use of the Stallerium or its assembly if it is computerized. The next thing you'll need is a 4-inch telescope with an eyepiece that provides 25x magnification. This simply shows an outline of Saturn and its rings, but to get the best view and see the most detail, you'll need a 6-inch or larger telescope capable of 200x magnification or more.
The weather also influences whether you have a good or bad experience observing Saturn. Later in this article, I'll explain how you can see Saturn and what to look for when observing the ringed planet.
What is Saturn?
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Saturn is the sixth planet from our sun, it is a gas giant and the second largest planet in our solar system. The planet has a polar diameter of 67,560 miles compared to Earth's 3,963 miles, making Saturn 17 times larger than Earth, but in terms of mass density, Saturn is 95 times larger than Earth.
Jupiter is, of course, significantly larger than Saturn, considering all the planets in our solar system can fit in, but that doesn't mean Saturn isn't huge!
The planet is, of course, best known for its ring, its pale yellow atmosphere, and its moons, one of which is well known, Titan. The planet is 890,424,928 miles from the Sun, which makes its orbit around the star add up to 29 years.
Like Jupiter and the Sun, Saturn is mostly made of helium and hydrogen, which means it can get very hot as it approaches the surface, and experts believe the core can reach temperatures of up to 11,700 degrees Celsius as the planet is very far from the sun, its atmospheric temperature is estimated to be very cold -179 degrees Celsius.
Can you see Saturn without a telescope?
However, you can actually see Saturn without a telescope because, unsurprisingly, you won't see anything but a bright star-like object in the night sky. In fact, Saturn is the last of the 5 closest planets to the Sun that we can observe without a telescope to do the job.
Its angular diameter ranges from 14.5" to 20.1", making it large enough to see without a telescope, as it appears as a pale yellow object on the horizon.
However, a telescope is obviously the best way to see the details of yellow-ringed planets, and now I'll move on to what you need to do to achieve this.
How to find Saturn
If you want to localize the Saturn, the best way to do this is with software likebarn, where you can simply enter your location and whether Saturn will be visible on the night you choose to observe it or, if you have one, use a computerized GoTo mount to automatically lock onto the planet.
If you want to see it without a telescope, you first need to find out if it's observable where you live. Saturn is least visible from late December to January. The planet appears to be observable from April to September, but the best time to observe it appears to be during the summer months, with July being the best month.
After September, the planet's visibility begins to decline by the end of December.
At its brightest, the planet is clearly visible, so finding and repairing it shouldn't be too difficult. However, it is only visible for a very short period of time during the worst visibility months, from late December to early March, so you should start your Saturn observing sessions between April and September.
What equipment do you need to see Saturn?
Technically, Saturn can be observed with a smaller telescope, but excellent conditions are still needed to accurately capture and observe the planet.
At 50x you can see Saturn, but with the shape of its rings and the yellow color, the image is like a yellow blob.
A 6-inch unit should allow for higher magnification, meaning you can get a maximum theoretical 300x magnification (depending on quality). At 200x magnification, you can see the differences in surface colors and the spacing of the surrounding rings.
And of course, the more power you can get out of your telescope, the better the images will be, but based on my research, 200x magnification seems to be ideally the magnification you want to get to have a decent viewing session of the ringed gas. . giant.
What should you keep in mind when observing Saturn?
There are many interesting things to look out for when observing Saturn, so in this section I'll cover some notable features to try to observe the next time Saturn is visible over the horizon.
the surface of saturn
Saturn's surface is pale yellow and, like Jupiter, it also has cloud bands around it where storms occur regularly, butneed a very powerful systemto observe these bands of clouds.
You can also use telescope filters like 38A (dark blue) and 80A (blue) to bring a little more detail to the surface if you want to observe it.
Saturn's rings can be seen from afar, but with a better quality telescope you can see the different sections of the rings.
There appear to be some rings orbiting the planet that can be seen at different brightness levels. If you don't know what the rings are made of, it's a combination of billions of pieces of ice, dust and rock. These particles can be as small as a single grain or even as large as rocks the size of a house.
It's highly unlikely that you'll be able to spot individual giant chunks of debris floating around the planet, but with a decent telescope that can see 8 separate rings, it might be possible.
The only instrument that can detect more rings, about 30 rings, is theCassini spacecraftorbit Saturn.
the different moons
Saturn has a ton of moons in its orbit, in fact, considering how many have been discovered so far, that's more than 79 for Jupiter. Saturn is currently known to have 82 moons.
By far its most famous moon is Titan, Saturn's largest moon. This moon is famous for having a dense atmosphere and for being the only known celestial body in space, along with Earth, where clear evidence of surface liquid has been studied.
It is also the second largest moon in our solar system, right behind one of Jupiter's moons, Ganymede. As Titan is the largest moon orbiting Saturn and is quite bright it is quite easy to spot however the other moons are much harder to observe but with minimal light pollution it is possible to spot 5 of the planets and other larger moons.
We hope this article has provided you with enough information to start your next Saturn observing session.
Saturn is a wonderful planet to look at, with some cool things to see in the rings, its moons and even cloud bands. It's no wonder that many amateur and experienced astronomers alike enjoy observing this gas giant, and I'm sure you will too!
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