Hey everyone! Unfavorable weather and busy schedule continued to dominate spring this year, so much so that I was beginning to think I wouldn’t get a chance to photograph Saturn this season. A few good nights came up however, and I am most happy that I was able to give Saturn a shot. There are a couple details that I’d like to point out (north is up): Obviously, the rings are the main attraction on this planet. The large gap in Saturn’s rings is called the Cassini Division, and where the rings pass in front of the disk of the planet, you can actually see through the division to the surface of the planet. On the globe itself, notice the “belts”, zones, and variation in colors. The belts, similar to Jupiter, are formed by fast jetstream winds. One interesting detail is Saturn’s strange north pole hexagon. Saturn’s NPH can be resolved with a little difficulty by astrophotographers here on earth. In my photograph, the hexagon is the green patch at the north pole– if I look at it just right, I like to convince myself that I can see the hexagonal shape.
Saturn can be a challenge to photograph. Being small, it needs a lot of magnification (or focal length). For perspective, normal daytime photographers consider a 600mm or 800mm lens a lot of focal length. This photograph was taken at a focal length of 5,875mm, nearly 6 meters! The focal ratio was F/25. As you can imagine, this is one of the reasons astrophotography is so challenging.