Observing Saturn’s Satellites

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Abstract

Saturn is attended by at least 33 known satellites, eight of which are visible with telescopes normally available to amateur astronomers, but seeing them is considerably more problematic than expected due to their intrinsic faintness and relative proximity to the planet’s brilliant globe and ring system. In addition, the changing inclination of the ring plane to our line of sight, as well as the varying distance of Saturn from the Earth, hampers visibility of the satellites. Using an eyepiece with a built-in occulting bar to block the globe and rings immensely improves the chances of detecting satellites in close proximity to the planet. When the rings disappear from view during edgewise presentations to our line of sight, which occurs at intervals of 13.75y and 15.75y (see Chapter 4), the most advantageous conditions occur for seeing Saturn’s satellites.