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Saturn in Broad Daylight from Chicago... (1 Viewer)

teflon

Senior Member
This is some great writing from what sometimes is perceived as boring astronomy, written by chicagoastronomer on the Space-talk forum:

(http://www.space-talk.com/ForumE/showthread.php3?threadid=2650)

I left my 4.5" telescope set up in my little part of the Earth from my M57 viewing of earlier, and restarted my observation session at 4:15am. Venus was shining brightly in the east like a great beacon. Venus has been the brightest that I have ever seen it, and is getting brighter still! I was trying out my new homemade eyepiece and clearly saw the almost half-phase of Venus. It really was too bright for the unfiltered eyepiece, as it was causing some glare and highlighting some imperfections on the glass.

Saturn was now clearing my eastern obstructions and shining it's usual yellow/gold color. My new low powered eyepiece showed the ring system nicely and I was switching to various powers, finally ending up with a 4mm and a 2x Barlow.

A fuzzy image, but cool regardless, as I was pushing my scope's resolving ability to the max. The rings were proudly showing us what it's all about and the new stomping grounds of the Cassini spacecraft.

I often thought how long I could keep an astronomical object in sight after the skies became overly bright from the soon to rise sun. Since I had Saturn in my sights, I set on a quest to see how long I could keep Saturn visualized in the eyepiece. It was 5:15 am, and I inserted a lower powered eyepiece, got a stool, found a all comedy radio station and commenced the session. I would set the planet to the far right of the field and allow the rotation of the Earth slide it to the opposite side and repeat. The sky was now changing from Chicago's orange muck to a deep twilight blue. My favorite time at each end of the day.

The temperature was comfortable as I was just wearing a shirt. Clouds started to roll in from the south with patchy abandonment, but I kept Saturn targeted and centered throughout. The skies were now transitioning from a beautiful turquoise to a baby blue, but Saturn was still shining bright in the scope. I was losing contrast quick and thought it would be only a few more minutes before I lost it completely. It was now about 5:45 am, birds were flying around and I was starting to lose naked eye contact with Saturn, but in binoculars it still stood out nicely. Venus was still burning bright without any optical assistance. I had noticed squirrels stopping by to see what this nut was doing.

At 6:00 am, the radio station was now running it's religious reflections and the sky in the eyepiece was now a bright blue, Saturn still in view, but now I was having a difficult time getting a sharp focus. It was all but a blurry smudge near the edges of the mirror. It was only clear and sharp in the center of the eyepiece. I attempted to locate Saturn thru the binoculars but was unsuccessful now, but still maintained it in the eyepiece. I was at the mercy of the changing light frequencies and did my best to maintain sharpness. I was now very careful not to bump and trip over the damned tripod legs or nudge the counter-weights that I so do often. Saturn was now starting to pass behind a tree branch from my yard, I feared I would lose it before the experiment was completed, but somehow it showed thru the blurred leaves and stayed with me. It cleared the branch and was now displayed in a clear patch of sunlit sky.

At around 6:15, I lost all telescopic focus on the planet and it just now was a whitish blurry dot, but I was still determined to maintain visual contact thru the scope till the end. I thought to myself how amazed I was that I could still keep Saturn targeted for so long. No way could I find it cold now. I found that I could only use one eye now for direct observation, as my other eye, (unaccustomed to the bright light of the ever brightening sky, and pupil more dilated than my left), was useless in discerning anything but bright blue. So the remainder of the test was with my left eye. The radio now played fat loss infomercial and they say they will send me a free bottle of the stuff if I buy two.

At 6:20 I found that I dared not now look away and could no longer remove myself from the eyepiece, as it was difficult to regain visual orientation of the vanishing planet in relation to the bright sky behind it. I had to now stay glued and stationary at the eyepiece and continue to verify its presence by adjusting the cable controls and watch the almost invisible pale light blue dot move to the center of the field. My feet hurt, back was aching, but this was a test of visual ability and physical stamina...none will prevent me from achieving my goal! The aluminum can collectors were making a racket, dogs were barking but I maintained my post. Thinking perhaps if I should have placed the scope in a better position, because now Saturn is heading toward more branches! Can't do anything about it now.

The tops of buildings around me were now illuminated by direct sunlight and I lost all contact with Venus with the naked eye. At 6:22 I had to keep tapping the scope tube to see the once bright and detailed Saturn, dance around in a almost faded non-existent ghost of what it once was earlier. Absolutely no discernible features, details or image of any substance. And at 6:23...I lost all visual contact with Saturn. I attempted to locate it again and again, like looking for a lost face in a crowd, but I was unsuccessful. The sun had finally washed all traces of exo-planetary evidence and strong armed the observation session experiment to a satisfactory conclusion. Sigh.

I sat down and reflected quietly for a bit of what I just witnessed. I have never accomplished this in all the years I have been observing the heavens, and thought it a good thing. I have read about locating Venus in bright daylight, but...perhaps another time. I now realized that it got colder now at sunrise than it had been all night, and that my sight needed to equalize and re-acclimate to normal viewing. It will be a beautiful day today, but this Astronomer shall sleep most of it away.

Ain't astronomy fun?

Let's see what adventures tomorrow will bring.

Respectfully Submitted...

Joe
Chicago Astronomer
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
'great'?!... i found the writing flawed throughout, and the surfeit of technical detail tedious... but if you're a great lover of star/planet-gazing, i guess you might not have noticed the poor literary quality... what comes through is that the guy certainly seems to enjoy what he's doing...
 

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