September 10, 1997 7:30 UT
Instrument: 24-inch Clark Refractor

Planet diameter: 20"

The seeing is perfect. Lowell's 24-inch Clark refractor is at full aperture and Saturn appears rock solid steady at 445X! It doesn't get any better than this. Ring sections A, B and C all are plainly visible. The narrow Encke division is just detectable inside the outer edge of the creamy A ring. Cassini's division is crisp and black. The bright B ring transitions cleanly into the tan-colored C ring. The inner portion of the B ring is somewhat darker. The C ring looks like finely spread charcoal. The C ring has a somewhat transparent appearance, kind of like looking through a screen door. The thin shadow of the rings is seen against the creamy Equatorial Zone (EZ).

Saturn's shadow is cast against the southern side of the rings. The bright EZ gives way to a dusky, broad South Equatorial Belt (SEB). The SEB thickens somewhat toward the preceding limb. A grayish South Tropical Zone (STrZ) separates the SEB from the South Temperate Belt (STB). The STB is quite far to the south and much narrower than the SEB. The northern hemisphere beyond the EZ displays a uniform dusky appearance.

Several of Saturn's moons are visible. My guesstimate, based on the Saturn's Satellites chart in the "1997 Astronomical Almanac", are that these include Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea and Titan. Mimas is extremely faint and just to the north of the ring system on the preceding side--a very tough observation.

August 19, 1998 Saturn


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