Three extraordinary planet nights


jimcoble2000
 

For the past three nights the seeing has been excellent to perfect as of last night. Kent and I spent about 9 total hours observing Saturn and Jupiter. While the first two nights were quite good, last night was one of the best nights for observing planets in the past two years. Under fairly warm skies with up to 90% humidity. There were only a few passing clouds. This offered the possibility of exceptional solar system observation and it did not disappoint.

Saturn was observed with two 5 inch refractors and a wide variety of eyepieces and combinations. By ten in the evening, we had spent about an hour and a half of observing the ringed planet. Planet bands were excellent but the rings put on the show last night. Under fairly high power we were able to distinguish not only the usual Cassini division we were able to detect the Enke division which is much smaller and requires considerable power and seeing. Most of the time you sensed it but at the best of moments in seeing, we both could distinguish the gap for a fleeting second. This was under perfect seeing mind you. This is when the rings look like grooves in an old LP record. I have done this one or two times previously. Both times we were using 268 to 300x. We also saw five moons even under suburban skies. The C ring was obvious also.

But the best and what I consider our  finest observation was yet to come.

Around 1020 we shifted to Jupiter which was now high enough to do good work. I will skip the usual observations, fine as they were, and get to the best observation of my multi decade career of observation. I know it was a high point for Kent also.

By happy coincidence two of Jupiter's moons were in a very close conjunction. Io and Ganymede were within 2.5 arc seconds of each other. This offered the opportunity to achieve comparative close observations of the two moons. The other happy consequence was that these two moons are a study in contrasts. The first thing you noticed at 300X was the significant size difference as the two moons were next to each other, resembling a close double star. Normally you can distinguish size differences on any good night of looking at the 4 main satellites of Jupiter but it really becomes obvious at such close separation. But the real highlight was this.

The best coincidence of the conjunction is that Io is the most volcanic body in the solar system. It is dominated by vulcanism repaving itself constantly. It has few craters, a universal feature of solar system bodies that are not gas giants. It is also distinctly yellow/orange in photos. Ganymede is quite bright with some dark regions. Overall it has a fairly high reflectance or albedo due to icy it's composition.

It occurred to me this might be the chance to use very high powers, 700X, to see if this difference in the moons could be detected. Close proximity, perfect seeing, and high powers offered a chance at an unusual opportunity. I cranked it up the 700x using a 1.6mm Vixen. I was thrilled to see the difference in color instantly. Io was a distinct orange in contrast to a bluish white tint of Ganymede. I called Kent over to observe without telling him what we were doing. As he looked I asked him "quick, what are the colors"? He nailed it instantly. We both have a lot of experience in subtle double star colors so Kent was an ideal test bed.  He had no hesitation in the observation. We had actually seen color and albedo difference in what are always just white orbs during normal observing. Combined circumstance allowed us to make what I personally consider my best, or at least extraordinary, observation visually ever.  What a climax to three excellent planet nights.


Ian Stewart
 

Great report Mark thanks for sharing.

On 8/26/2021 8:03 AM, jimcoble2000 via groups.io wrote:
For the past three nights the seeing has been excellent to perfect as of last night. Kent and I spent about 9 total hours observing Saturn and Jupiter. While the first two nights were quite good, last night was one of the best nights for observing planets in the past two years. Under fairly warm skies with up to 90% humidity. There were only a few passing clouds. This offered the possibility of exceptional solar system observation and it did not disappoint.

Saturn was observed with two 5 inch refractors and a wide variety of eyepieces and combinations. By ten in the evening, we had spent about an hour and a half of observing the ringed planet. Planet bands were excellent but the rings put on the show last night. Under fairly high power we were able to distinguish not only the usual Cassini division we were able to detect the Enke division which is much smaller and requires considerable power and seeing. Most of the time you sensed it but at the best of moments in seeing, we both could distinguish the gap for a fleeting second. This was under perfect seeing mind you. This is when the rings look like grooves in an old LP record. I have done this one or two times previously. Both times we were using 268 to 300x. We also saw five moons even under suburban skies. The C ring was obvious also.

But the best and what I consider our  finest observation was yet to come.

Around 1020 we shifted to Jupiter which was now high enough to do good work. I will skip the usual observations, fine as they were, and get to the best observation of my multi decade career of observation. I know it was a high point for Kent also.

By happy coincidence two of Jupiter's moons were in a very close conjunction. Io and Ganymede were within 2.5 arc seconds of each other. This offered the opportunity to achieve comparative close observations of the two moons. The other happy consequence was that these two moons are a study in contrasts. The first thing you noticed at 300X was the significant size difference as the two moons were next to each other, resembling a close double star. Normally you can distinguish size differences on any good night of looking at the 4 main satellites of Jupiter but it really becomes obvious at such close separation. But the real highlight was this.

The best coincidence of the conjunction is that Io is the most volcanic body in the solar system. It is dominated by vulcanism repaving itself constantly. It has few craters, a universal feature of solar system bodies that are not gas giants. It is also distinctly yellow/orange in photos. Ganymede is quite bright with some dark regions. Overall it has a fairly high reflectance or albedo due to icy it's composition.

It occurred to me this might be the chance to use very high powers, 700X, to see if this difference in the moons could be detected. Close proximity, perfect seeing, and high powers offered a chance at an unusual opportunity. I cranked it up the 700x using a 1.6mm Vixen. I was thrilled to see the difference in color instantly. Io was a distinct orange in contrast to a bluish white tint of Ganymede. I called Kent over to observe without telling him what we were doing. As he looked I asked him "quick, what are the colors"? He nailed it instantly. We both have a lot of experience in subtle double star colors so Kent was an ideal test bed.  He had no hesitation in the observation. We had actually seen color and albedo difference in what are always just white orbs during normal observing. Combined circumstance allowed us to make what I personally consider my best, or at least extraordinary, observation visually ever.  What a climax to three excellent planet nights.


Kent Blackwell
 

It was indeed a great night for planets. The details visible in Saturn's rings were astonishing. I also observed several double stars, some with considerable color contrasts as well as several with magnitude contrasts.

The Crepe Ring was fairly easy, but required at least 200x to see it. Encke's Division, that's another story. I'm not 100% certain I saw it, but certainly saw a darkening in the A Ring. We both confirmed 4 moons.

Jupiter looked amazing as well. It's too bad the GRS was not visible. I've noticed it has weakened considerably since the past two years when it was as dark red as I have ever seen it.

It was interesting to see Io and Ganymede so close together, I estimated about a 2.5" split. Checking SkySafari they were actually 2.6". Oh my, I was off 0.1", I must be slipping.

Kent

--- jimcoble2000@... wrote:

From: Mark Ost <jimcoble2000@...>
To: kentblackwell <kent@...>, Roy Diffrient <mail@...>, BBAA-Group <backbayastro@groups.io>, "Kurt.Melow@..." <kurt.melow@...>
Subject: Three extraordinary planet nights
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2021 12:03:30 +0000 (UTC)

For the past three nights the seeing has been excellent to perfect as of last night. Kent and I spent about 9 total hours observing Saturn and Jupiter. While the first two nights were quite good, last night was one of the best nights for observing planets in the past two years. Under fairly warm skies with up to 90% humidity. There were only a few passing clouds. This offered the possibility of exceptional solar system observation and it did not disappoint.

Saturn was observed with two 5 inch refractors and a wide variety of eyepieces and combinations. By ten in the evening, we had spent about an hour and a half of observing the ringed planet. Planet bands were excellent but the rings put on the show last night. Under fairly high power we were able to distinguish not only the usual Cassini division we were able to detect the Enke division which is much smaller and requires considerable power and seeing. Most of the time you sensed it but at the best of moments in seeing, we both could distinguish the gap for a fleeting second. This was under perfect seeing mind you. This is when the rings look like grooves in an old LP record. I have done this one or two times previously. Both times we were using 268 to 300x. We also saw five moons even under suburban skies. The C ring was obvious also.

But the best and what I consider our  finest observation was yet to come.

Around 1020 we shifted to Jupiter which was now high enough to do good work. I will skip the usual observations, fine as they were, and get to the best observation of my multi decade career of observation. I know it was a high point for Kent also.

By happy coincidence two of Jupiter's moons were in a very close conjunction. Io and Ganymede were within 2.5 arc seconds of each other. This offered the opportunity to achieve comparative close observations of the two moons. The other happy consequence was that these two moons are a study in contrasts. The first thing you noticed at 300X was the significant size difference as the two moons were next to each other, resembling a close double star. Normally you can distinguish size differences on any good night of looking at the 4 main satellites of Jupiter but it really becomes obvious at such close separation. But the real highlight was this.

The best coincidence of the conjunction is that Io is the most volcanic body in the solar system. It is dominated by vulcanism repaving itself constantly. It has few craters, a universal feature of solar system bodies that are not gas giants. It is also distinctly yellow/orange in photos. Ganymede is quite bright with some dark regions. Overall it has a fairly high reflectance or albedo due to icy it's composition.

It occurred to me this might be the chance to use very high powers, 700X, to see if this difference in the moons could be detected. Close proximity, perfect seeing, and high powers offered a chance at an unusual opportunity. I cranked it up the 700x using a 1.6mm Vixen. I was thrilled to see the difference in color instantly. Io was a distinct orange in contrast to a bluish white tint of Ganymede. I called Kent over to observe without telling him what we were doing. As he looked I asked him "quick, what are the colors"? He nailed it instantly. We both have a lot of experience in subtle double star colors so Kent was an ideal test bed.  He had no hesitation in the observation. We had actually seen color and albedo difference in what are always just white orbs during normal observing. Combined circumstance allowed us to make what I personally consider my best, or at least extraordinary, observation visually ever.  What a climax to three excellent planet nights.


jimcoble2000
 

Yup your estimate was pretty close. There must have been a bit of sweat in your eyes so that would account for the 0.1 arc second errorEmoji That is the experience in doubles speaking. Great visual estimate.

I agree on the Enke. Most time it was just an impression of darkening within the A ring though I think in one or two moments it resolved, much like doing sub arc second stars. I have found that your impressions are a good clue in marginal settings. After that verification by independent observation is the best assurance. Lowell could have desperately used that practice concerning his canals of Mars. I checked the magnitude of all the Saturn's moons last night after getting back using Sky Tools. The ones we saw were certainly within the range of visibility and the one that may be questionable (5th) could just barely fit the bill of visible.

Interestingly, we now are perfectly matched for focus after my eye surgery. Previously when we shared scopes I had to re focus from where Kent had set it. Now there is no requirement to adjust.

We are now... par focal...........is that a bad word?Emoji

Of course to be ideal I should get my ophthalmologist to set my eyes 3 inches deeper in my noggin to duplicate Kent.....................but then on second thought we really don't need two Mr. Blackwells. I also wonder if we could have done the Jovian moon's colors with my old eyes. Maybe not.

On Thursday, August 26, 2021, 08:55:35 AM EDT, Kent Blackwell <kent@...> wrote:


It was indeed a great night for planets. The details visible in Saturn's rings were astonishing. I also observed several double stars, some with considerable color contrasts as well as several with magnitude contrasts.

The Crepe Ring was fairly easy, but required at least 200x to see it. Encke's Division, that's another story. I'm not 100% certain I saw it, but certainly saw a darkening in the A Ring. We both confirmed 4 moons.

Jupiter looked amazing as well. It's too bad the GRS was not visible. I've noticed it has weakened considerably since the past two years when it was as dark red as I have ever seen it.

It was interesting to see Io and Ganymede so close together, I estimated about a 2.5" split. Checking SkySafari they were actually 2.6". Oh my, I was off 0.1", I must be slipping.

Kent

--- jimcoble2000@... wrote:

From: Mark Ost <jimcoble2000@...>
To: kentblackwell <kent@...>, Roy Diffrient <mail@...>, BBAA-Group <backbayastro@groups.io>, "Kurt.Melow@..." <kurt.melow@...>
Subject: Three extraordinary planet nights
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2021 12:03:30 +0000 (UTC)

For the past three nights the seeing has been excellent to perfect as of last night. Kent and I spent about 9 total hours observing Saturn and Jupiter. While the first two nights were quite good, last night was one of the best nights for observing planets in the past two years. Under fairly warm skies with up to 90% humidity. There were only a few passing clouds. This offered the possibility of exceptional solar system observation and it did not disappoint.

Saturn was observed with two 5 inch refractors and a wide variety of eyepieces and combinations. By ten in the evening, we had spent about an hour and a half of observing the ringed planet. Planet bands were excellent but the rings put on the show last night. Under fairly high power we were able to distinguish not only the usual Cassini division we were able to detect the Enke division which is much smaller and requires considerable power and seeing. Most of the time you sensed it but at the best of moments in seeing, we both could distinguish the gap for a fleeting second. This was under perfect seeing mind you. This is when the rings look like grooves in an old LP record. I have done this one or two times previously. Both times we were using 268 to 300x. We also saw five moons even under suburban skies. The C ring was obvious also.

But the best and what I consider our  finest observation was yet to come.

Around 1020 we shifted to Jupiter which was now high enough to do good work. I will skip the usual observations, fine as they were, and get to the best observation of my multi decade career of observation. I know it was a high point for Kent also.

By happy coincidence two of Jupiter's moons were in a very close conjunction. Io and Ganymede were within 2.5 arc seconds of each other. This offered the opportunity to achieve comparative close observations of the two moons. The other happy consequence was that these two moons are a study in contrasts. The first thing you noticed at 300X was the significant size difference as the two moons were next to each other, resembling a close double star. Normally you can distinguish size differences on any good night of looking at the 4 main satellites of Jupiter but it really becomes obvious at such close separation. But the real highlight was this.

The best coincidence of the conjunction is that Io is the most volcanic body in the solar system. It is dominated by vulcanism repaving itself constantly. It has few craters, a universal feature of solar system bodies that are not gas giants. It is also distinctly yellow/orange in photos. Ganymede is quite bright with some dark regions. Overall it has a fairly high reflectance or albedo due to icy it's composition.

It occurred to me this might be the chance to use very high powers, 700X, to see if this difference in the moons could be detected. Close proximity, perfect seeing, and high powers offered a chance at an unusual opportunity. I cranked it up the 700x using a 1.6mm Vixen. I was thrilled to see the difference in color instantly. Io was a distinct orange in contrast to a bluish white tint of Ganymede. I called Kent over to observe without telling him what we were doing. As he looked I asked him "quick, what are the colors"? He nailed it instantly. We both have a lot of experience in subtle double star colors so Kent was an ideal test bed.  He had no hesitation in the observation. We had actually seen color and albedo difference in what are always just white orbs during normal observing. Combined circumstance allowed us to make what I personally consider my best, or at least extraordinary, observation visually ever.  What a climax to three excellent planet nights.


Roy Diffrient
 

Thanks Mark – sounds like a great one.

Roy


On Aug 26, 2021, at 8:03 AM, jimcoble2000 via groups.io <jimcoble2000@...> wrote:


For the past three nights the seeing has been excellent to perfect as of last night. Kent and I spent about 9 total hours observing Saturn and Jupiter. While the first two nights were quite good, last night was one of the best nights for observing planets in the past two years. Under fairly warm skies with up to 90% humidity. There were only a few passing clouds. This offered the possibility of exceptional solar system observation and it did not disappoint.

Saturn was observed with two 5 inch refractors and a wide variety of eyepieces and combinations. By ten in the evening, we had spent about an hour and a half of observing the ringed planet. Planet bands were excellent but the rings put on the show last night. Under fairly high power we were able to distinguish not only the usual Cassini division we were able to detect the Enke division which is much smaller and requires considerable power and seeing. Most of the time you sensed it but at the best of moments in seeing, we both could distinguish the gap for a fleeting second. This was under perfect seeing mind you. This is when the rings look like grooves in an old LP record. I have done this one or two times previously. Both times we were using 268 to 300x. We also saw five moons even under suburban skies. The C ring was obvious also.

But the best and what I consider our  finest observation was yet to come.

Around 1020 we shifted to Jupiter which was now high enough to do good work. I will skip the usual observations, fine as they were, and get to the best observation of my multi decade career of observation. I know it was a high point for Kent also.

By happy coincidence two of Jupiter's moons were in a very close conjunction. Io and Ganymede were within 2.5 arc seconds of each other. This offered the opportunity to achieve comparative close observations of the two moons. The other happy consequence was that these two moons are a study in contrasts. The first thing you noticed at 300X was the significant size difference as the two moons were next to each other, resembling a close double star. Normally you can distinguish size differences on any good night of looking at the 4 main satellites of Jupiter but it really becomes obvious at such close separation. But the real highlight was this.

The best coincidence of the conjunction is that Io is the most volcanic body in the solar system. It is dominated by vulcanism repaving itself constantly. It has few craters, a universal feature of solar system bodies that are not gas giants. It is also distinctly yellow/orange in photos. Ganymede is quite bright with some dark regions. Overall it has a fairly high reflectance or albedo due to icy it's composition.

It occurred to me this might be the chance to use very high powers, 700X, to see if this difference in the moons could be detected. Close proximity, perfect seeing, and high powers offered a chance at an unusual opportunity. I cranked it up the 700x using a 1.6mm Vixen. I was thrilled to see the difference in color instantly. Io was a distinct orange in contrast to a bluish white tint of Ganymede. I called Kent over to observe without telling him what we were doing. As he looked I asked him "quick, what are the colors"? He nailed it instantly. We both have a lot of experience in subtle double star colors so Kent was an ideal test bed.  He had no hesitation in the observation. We had actually seen color and albedo difference in what are always just white orbs during normal observing. Combined circumstance allowed us to make what I personally consider my best, or at least extraordinary, observation visually ever.  What a climax to three excellent planet nights.


Ted Forte
 

Remarkable observation Mark.

 

Ted

 

From: BackBayAstro@groups.io <BackBayAstro@groups.io> On Behalf Of jimcoble2000 via groups.io
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2021 5:04 AM
To: kentblackwell <kent@...>; Roy Diffrient <mail@...>; BBAA-Group <backbayastro@groups.io>; kurt.melow@...
Subject: [BackBayAstro] Three extraordinary planet nights

 

For the past three nights the seeing has been excellent to perfect as of last night. Kent and I spent about 9 total hours observing Saturn and Jupiter. While the first two nights were quite good, last night was one of the best nights for observing planets in the past two years. Under fairly warm skies with up to 90% humidity. There were only a few passing clouds. This offered the possibility of exceptional solar system observation and it did not disappoint.

 

Saturn was observed with two 5 inch refractors and a wide variety of eyepieces and combinations. By ten in the evening, we had spent about an hour and a half of observing the ringed planet. Planet bands were excellent but the rings put on the show last night. Under fairly high power we were able to distinguish not only the usual Cassini division we were able to detect the Enke division which is much smaller and requires considerable power and seeing. Most of the time you sensed it but at the best of moments in seeing, we both could distinguish the gap for a fleeting second. This was under perfect seeing mind you. This is when the rings look like grooves in an old LP record. I have done this one or two times previously. Both times we were using 268 to 300x. We also saw five moons even under suburban skies. The C ring was obvious also.

 

But the best and what I consider our  finest observation was yet to come.

 

Around 1020 we shifted to Jupiter which was now high enough to do good work. I will skip the usual observations, fine as they were, and get to the best observation of my multi decade career of observation. I know it was a high point for Kent also.

 

By happy coincidence two of Jupiter's moons were in a very close conjunction. Io and Ganymede were within 2.5 arc seconds of each other. This offered the opportunity to achieve comparative close observations of the two moons. The other happy consequence was that these two moons are a study in contrasts. The first thing you noticed at 300X was the significant size difference as the two moons were next to each other, resembling a close double star. Normally you can distinguish size differences on any good night of looking at the 4 main satellites of Jupiter but it really becomes obvious at such close separation. But the real highlight was this.

 

The best coincidence of the conjunction is that Io is the most volcanic body in the solar system. It is dominated by vulcanism repaving itself constantly. It has few craters, a universal feature of solar system bodies that are not gas giants. It is also distinctly yellow/orange in photos. Ganymede is quite bright with some dark regions. Overall it has a fairly high reflectance or albedo due to icy it's composition.

 

It occurred to me this might be the chance to use very high powers, 700X, to see if this difference in the moons could be detected. Close proximity, perfect seeing, and high powers offered a chance at an unusual opportunity. I cranked it up the 700x using a 1.6mm Vixen. I was thrilled to see the difference in color instantly. Io was a distinct orange in contrast to a bluish white tint of Ganymede. I called Kent over to observe without telling him what we were doing. As he looked I asked him "quick, what are the colors"? He nailed it instantly. We both have a lot of experience in subtle double star colors so Kent was an ideal test bed.  He had no hesitation in the observation. We had actually seen color and albedo difference in what are always just white orbs during normal observing. Combined circumstance allowed us to make what I personally consider my best, or at least extraordinary, observation visually ever.  What a climax to three excellent planet nights.


Thomas Epps
 

Terrific report! I only wish you had let us in on the favorable conditions for planetary observing earlier--say, three nights earlier. I for one have no southern-sky exposure at home and have to cart my scopes out to a field nearly a mile away to observe Jupiter and Saturn as they currently appear. Please consider letting others in on the good news when favorable conditions occur.


jimcoble2000
 

Oh that I wish I could predict it. But there are some general ideas. Summer is usually better seeing, especially in hot conditions when there have a been no fronts coming through. Wind does not seem to affect seeing directly as far as I can tell. Maybe others have other opinions on wind. Objects are best when high in the sky

Weather here is a bit difficult predict accurately over three days advance. Oddly, seeing is often better in suburban areas than rural but you have to put up with light pollution so that is a bit of a trade off. Of course planets and the moon could care less about lights.

The best idea I can offer is to observe a whole lot. That does two things. Ups your odds of getting the great nights and improves your predicting ability as much as possible (emphasis on "as much as possible")!  Emoji

Like great performances and love affairs, you just can't order up a good night, it just happens. I certainly understand your situation. It is frustrating. I do try not to populate the list with tons of observations unless they are exceptional or worth sharing. In either case it is a bit retrospective. One other thing that may help is to acquire either Sky Tools or Sky Safari to monitor when predictable situations come up such as the jovian moon conjunction. Though I would not have proposed publicly the color attempt as the odds were quite long it could even be done. That one was 1% in the back of my mind and 99% on the spot idea.

Soooo. Ok I'll put on my psychic hat and say tonight should be  good but results may vary by user!

On Friday, August 27, 2021, 07:42:48 AM EDT, Thomas Epps <seafarer23601@...> wrote:


Terrific report! I only wish you had let us in on the favorable conditions for planetary observing earlier--say, three nights earlier. I for one have no southern-sky exposure at home and have to cart my scopes out to a field nearly a mile away to observe Jupiter and Saturn as they currently appear. Please consider letting others in on the good news when favorable conditions occur.