20th Jun. 2011 :: Saturn
I love Saturn, I first saw it through a 12 inch Dobsonian up in the Atacama desert while in Chile in 2006. Though I'd been interested in astronomy for a long time this was the moment in which I was really hooked.
I remember distinctly to this day the shock, awe and excitement that I felt when I first put my eye to the eyepiece. I hadn't expected any of those emotions - I just thought that I was going to look at something. I remembered as a kid laying on the grass with friends and wondering about the stars and who or what was looking back at us, but seeing Saturn in all its majestic beauty seemed to pull the universe close.
It was in those moments that looking up and wondering became an opportunity to not only wonder, but in a small way to investigate, to study and to understand. It was like the world’s largest, most interesting book had been placed in front of me. A book so vast that it was still being written, and yet already contained so many answers. This was my opportunity to understand - at least in part - the universe into which I had been born.
To this day, this is what I feel when I look at Saturn.
Saturn is one of the top four most beautiful things that I've ever seen; the other three are Michelangelo's Pieta
, a total solar eclipse of the sun (see post from 12th July 2010) and Fireflies in the late summer dusk in Tuscany.
This photo of Saturn (above) was taken on the 20th June 2011, I used my 120mm Skywatcher Equinox, a 3x Barlow and an Imaging Source camera. I took a 2 minute 3000 frame capture, stacked with Registax and processed in Photoshop. It was a cloudy night and Saturn was pretty low - I only had an hour of observing, but in between the clouds the sky was amazingly still, and seeing was good. I think the result is pretty good, though I think that with a better observing site I may be able to get better results with this setup as there was a fair bit of light pollution.
You can just make out the shadow of the planet on the rings, the shadow of the rings on the planet and a hint of the Cassini division.
Tuscan Fireflies - I should point out that this photo comes nowhere near doing the experience of sitting in the wood surrounded by these things any justice at all. But this was the best I could manage...