Observing Report 3rd-4th April 2011 (Saturn in opposition)

Posted by @ 10:03 am on Wednesday 6th April, 2011.

Once a year the Earth passes almost exactly between the Sun and Saturn, at this time Saturn is said to be in opposition (Saturn and the Sun are directly opposite each other relative to an Earth-bound observer). With the Earth being "piggy in the middle", it stands to reason that at that time Saturn will be illuminated almost exactly face-on from behind the Earth, and this causes an interesting phenomenon, The Seeliger Effect. This is an apparent relative brightening of Saturn's rings due to the fact that we don't see so many shadows between the rings and between the ring particles.

This year's opposition occurred at 01:00 BST (00:00 UTC) on the 4th of April. I managed to get several imaging runs of it during the period one hour either side of the actual opposition, typically at the exact time there were clouds in the way so time-wise the closest I could manage was at about 00:10 BST:

 

Saturn in opposition
8" Newtonian, SPC900NC webcam, eyepiece-projection.
300/5400 frames stacked with RegiStax6, post-processing with PSCS3

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