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Saturn at 3200mm (12Jul2016)

Saturn through 8" at 3200mm (12Jul2016) Saturn through 8" at 3200mm (12Jul2016) ©2016 Frederick Steiling
Target Information
Main Target Designation(s) Saturn
Additional Images
Published image Full resolution
Exposures
Unfiltered monochrome 2500 x 12ms at 75% gain
Video source 5% of 10' video at 83 fps (avg)
Capture resolution 320x240
Date(s) of acquition 12Jul2016
Location Defiance, MO
Equipment
Imager ZWO ASI120MM
Telescope/Lens Orion 8" f/3.9 Astrograph
(f/15.8 as configured)
Mount Celestron CGEM
Focuser Moonlite 2" Newtonian CR
Accessories
Coma Corrector None
Collimator 2" Howie Glatter @ 650nm
Focusing Moonlite Mini V2 High-res Controller
Magnifiers Televue 2" Powermate 4x
Software
Acquisition FireCapture 2.4
Guiding None
Processing AutoStakkert 2, Registax 6, PixInsight 1.8

Even through the thick summer skies of the midwest USA, we can peel through the shaky, moisture-ridden layers of our atmosphere to reveal one of our solar system's greatest beauties, and all through a modestly-sized 8" telescope!

With the skies in St. Louis being so inconsistent and hazy over the past month, a rare clear sky couldn't be neglected.  Resisting the temptation to begin a longer-term deep-space image project because of the real possibility that bad upcoming weather could ultimately render it incomplete, the night instead offered an opportunity to stretch my usual 8-inch "DSO cannon" for planetary work.  With Saturn barely being differentiable from a star in the sky with an angular diameter currently of less than 18 arcseconds, taking a picture of it with my normal deep-sky CCD camera through my telescope would result in a Saturn sphere of only 12-pixels!

With the help of a 4x barlow lens to increase the telescope's focal length to 3200mm from 800mm, as well as a special planetary camera with smaller pixels (3.75µm vs. 5.6µm), I am able to capture this neighborly wonder to display its gas sphere at a whopping 75 pixels!  While this isn't much, high-speed video taken over 10 minutes allowed me to selectively stack only the best 2500 frames and tease out detail in surprising resolution.  It's a bit of an unconventional approach for "proper" planetary pictures, but much of this hobby is about maximizing what you have... and having fun with it!  Even through unideal summer skies and "deep space" equipment, we can brute-force our way to this stunner that currently lies a breath-taking 1.38 billion kilometers from us.

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