Saturn on August 17, 2003

Until 1781 when Uranus was discovered, Saturn was thought to mark the outer limit of our solar system. When this image was taken, Saturn's rings were open to their maximum possible extent with the south side facing Earth. Compare this image with the tilt of the rings in 1999 and in 1998. In 2009, the rings will be viewed edge-on from the vantage point of Earth, and will be difficult to observe.

Although 2003 was an excellent year for examining the rings, this image was taken when Saturn was far away from Earth and low in the eastern sky just before dawn. Saturn had just emerged from conjunction with the Sun on June 24 and was not well placed for telescopic viewing. The disk of Saturn had an apparent size of 17 arc-seconds (at the equator). By contrast, when Saturn reached opposition on December 31, 2003, it swelled to 20.6 arc-seconds in diameter, and the rings were 46.6 arc-seconds across.

This image of Mars was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona, using a ToUcam web cam on a FCT-150 refractor with a Televue 4x PowerMate. The focal length was about f28. The images were aligned and stacked with Registax.

Constellation: Gemini
RA: 06h 39m 50.6s Dec: +22d 22' 13"
August 17, 2003
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

Recent Images.
Complete list of images.
Description of equipment used to acquire images.
Feedback and comments should go to Sid