Neptune comes to opposition on August 24 in the constellation of Aquarius and lies just over a degree to the east of 38 Aquarii. At opposition, its magnitude will be +7.8 and so it can be seen with just a pair of binoculars or a very mall telescope. A chart for finding Neptune can be found in the BAA Handbook.
Observers with larger instruments may be able to see the planet’s disk which is only 2”.4 across.
Its largest satellite is Triton. Although this is only about 13 magnitude, it should be seen visually in large amateur telescopes or via digital imaging techniques such as shown in the attached image taken by Maurice Gavin on 2010 August 30.
By Mike Foulkes, Saturn Section Director
Saturn is at opposition on 15 April 2012 in the constellation of Virgo. With a magnitude of 0.2, it lies north east of Virgo’s brightest star, Spica (magnitude 0.98).
The north pole of the planet (and hence the north face of the rings) is iinclined by ~13.8 degrees towards the Earth. Small telescopes should be able to detect Cassini’s division in each ansae.
Small telescopes should also be able to detect what appears to be a single broad dark band in the planet’s northern hemisphere. This spans the latitudes of the classical North Equatorial and North Temperate belts.
Higher resolution observations reveal a lighter zone within this band at the approximate latitude of last year’s great northern hemisphere storm. Higher resolution observations have also detected some residual storm activity at this latitude.
A brighter bluish coloured zone is visible further north.
Recently on 12 April an image taken by Anthony Wesley showed a bright spot at an approximate latitude of 55 degrees N and an approximate System 3 longitude of 312 degrees. Further observations are required of this feature.
Mike Foulkes. Saturn Section director.
Taken with a 6 inch refractor, f/9, with a Celestron Neximager at approximately x480 magnification, from Hastigrow, Bower, By Wick.
I particularly liked this image because it gives an impression very much like a visual observation – Ed.
Damian Peach took this stunning image of Saturn on 28th March, when the planet was only at 34 degrees altitude.
The large storm in Saturn’s North Tropical Zone is still visible. However recent observations show a new light spot at higher latitudes in the planet’s northern hemisphere. This was observed by Paul Maxson on 8 January 2011 and again by Tomio Akutsu on 13 January 2011. The provisional measurements of its position are longitude ~ 180 deg (System 3) and latitude 56 to 57 deg N (Planetographic)
More observations of this feature are urgently required.
Mike Foulkes BAA Saturn Section Director
On 8 Dec 2010 two spots were recorded on Saturn at the same latitude.
Firstly, a bright spot was recorded close to the central meridian in an image taken at 02:12UT by Sadegh Ghomizadeh in Iran. The provisional position for this spot measured from the image is: latitude 37.5 degrees north (planetographic), longitude (System 3) 248 degrees.
Just over 5 hours later, David Gray in the UK visually recorded a light spot approaching the p. limb. The provisional position for this spot measured from David’s drawing is: latitude of 37.5 degrees north, longitude (System 3) 29 degrees.
Saturn is well placed for observation before dawn and more observations are urgently required to confirm these features.
BAA Saturn Section director.
12 December 2010