Saturn 2023 Apparition Notes

2023 Mar

The first observation of this apparition was made by Trevor Barry on Mar 29.

2023 April

During April, observations were received from Trevor Barry (408mm Newtonian) and Andy Casely (C14) in Australia. Trevor observed on April 2, 16, 20, 21, 22 and 23 using R,G,B, IR and Methane filters and Andy observed on April 14 and 18 using R,G, B and IR filters.
More of the belt and zone structure was visible in these observations including a fainter NEB(N). The NEB(S) was the most prominent belt and had a warm tone in contrast the SEB(S) which appeared colder.The shadow of the rings onto the globe was also prominent.

2023 April 18. 19:57.8UT. Andy Casely, C14

Some of Trevor’s very high resolution images; particularly those taken in IR, revealed some small features at a number of latitues. A series of images on the same night showed these to move with the rotation of the planet.
Of particular interest was activity in the SEB. On April 16, this appeared as a series of low contrast bright spots and again on April 21, 22 (only one spot) and 23. On April 2, a low contrast spot or oval was detected at high southern latitudes.
Also on April 20, Trevor captured the motion of Saturn in the sky relative to the star HIP 110789 in IR.
A transit of Tethys was detected on April 21.

2023 May

Trevor Barry and Andy Casely were to only two observers who were able to observe during May.
Trevor observed on May 8, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 22. Andy observed on May 22.
A greater amount of belt and zone structure was recorded in these images including a strong EB in the northern part of the EZ. A faint STB was visible and A faint belt was visible which could be designated either as a NEB(N) or an NTB, but more detailed latitude measurements will help resolve this issue.
Trevor recorded a transit of Tethys on May 8.
Bright SEB activity continued during this month and was recorded on May 9, 10 and 17.
The bright high southerly latitude oval was recorded in IR/R on May 10, 18 and 22. Longitude measurements based on the images so far indicate a drift lightly greater than -3 deg/day relative to System III.
On May 11, Trevor recorded a series of spots on what he designated as the southern edge of the NTB (provisional latitude measurements indicate that this may be the NEB(N).
On May 22, Trevor had very good seeing and recorded some fine detail at a number of latitudes at various wavelengths.

2023 June
Only a few observations were made during June i.e. by Trevor Barry on June 9, Mike Hood (200mm refractor) on June 22, Efrain Morales (305mm SCT) on June 27, Luigi Morrone (C14) on June 22 and 30, and Peter Tickner (C14) on June 9 and 11. The belt/zone structure was as in May. More detail was detected in the rings especially in Ring A by Efrain on June 27.
On June 9, Trevor recorded activity in the SEB, the light oval at high southern latitudes and in the EB plus other features. He also recorded a transit of Tethys and its shadow.

2023 June 09. 17:57 UT.. Trevor Barry. 408mm Newtonian, IR image showing disturbance on the SEB.
2023 June 9.20:27 UT. Trevor Barry. 408mm Newtonian, IR image showing Tethys and shadow in transit plus high southern latitude oval.

2023 July

During this month, observations were received from Paul Abel (305mm Newtonian) on July 30, Trevor Barry on July 8, 11, 12, 16, 23 and 31, David Basey (358mm Newtonian) on July 17, Massimo Giuntoli on July 29, Mike Hood on July 25, Efrain Morales on July 10, 22, 25,and 29, Luigi Morrone on July 30, Mattia Piccoli (254mm Newtonian) on July 16, John Sussenbach (C14) on July 23, Peter Tickner on July 2, 7, 13, and 26, Anthony Wesley on July 13 and 19.

2023 July 13. 16:35.0 UT. Anthony Wesley. 415mm Newtonian
2023 July 23. 00:48 UT. John Sussenbach. C14. IR

The NEB(S) continued to be the most prominent belt with a warm colouration. Colour contract between some northern and southern features shown in several images. Observing visually on July 30, Paul noted the colour of the northern hemisphere was warmer than the southern hemisphere.

Once again, Trevor also imaged some small features at various latitudes.
The light oval at high southern latitudes continued to be recorded. A drift of -3.1 to -3.2 degrees per day in System III is indicated. The measured latitudes of this oval has some scatter which is not surprising as it lies close to the planet’s southern limb. However a latitude of ~55 deg S is indicated. On July 12, it was resolved in IR, appeared fainter in R, and appeared as a faint dark spot in G and B. Another similar feature has been recorded but at a slightly lower southern latitude.
Activity in the SEB was also recorded including several bright spots on July 8, 11. On July 24 a longer brighter linear feature was resolved just N of the SEB.
Some activity has also been recorded in the EZ.

The shadow of the rings on the globe deceased in width. The brighter inner part and darker outer part of Ring A was sometimes recorded.

A number of the satellites were imaged during this month. Peter captured several including Mimas and Enceladus on July 2 and 29 , and Efrain captured Enceladus on July 22. Efrain also captured a transit of Tethys on July 25.

2023 July 2. 02:04 UT. Peter Tickner. C14
2023 July 25. 05;42 UT. Efrain Morales.305mm SCT. Tethys in transit.

2023 August

Opposition was on Aug 27.
During this month, observations were received from: Dean Ashton on Aug 25, Trevor Barry on Aug 2, 5, 7, 14, 23 and 24, David Basey on Aug 27 and 28, Andy Casely on Aug 24, 27, 29 and 31, Nicholas Freeman on Aug 2, Mike Foulkes on Aug 14 and 30, Massimo Giuntoli on Aug 12, David Graham on Aug 11, 20, 24, 26 and 29, Luke Gulliver on Aug 23 and 31, Rik Hill on Aug 22, 25, 28 and 30, Mike Hood on Aug 23, 25 and 27, Martin Lewis on Aug 16, Efrain Morales on Aug 14, 18, 28, 30 and 31, Luigi Morrone on Aug 14, 16, 24 and 25, Ron Palgrave on Aug 26, Damian Peach on Aug22, Adam Rawlinson on Aug 20, Eric Sussenbach on Aug 5, Peter Tickner on Aug 4, 10, 17, 20 and 25 and Anthony Wesley on Aug 10 and 22.
As can be seen from the above, a number of observers were able to observe the planet either a few days before or after opposition or at opposition itself. They were able to observe the ring brightening (Opposition /Seeliger effect).

2023 Aug 26. 23:00UT. Ron Palgrave. LX200 14
2023 Aug 27. 05:23. Mike Hood. 200mm Refractor
2023 Aug 28. 00:00UT. David Basey. 358mm Newtonian.
2023 Aug 28 05:41UT. Rik Hill. 200mm Mak-Cas.

During this month the shadow of the globe onto the rings became narrow moving towards opposition. In addition the shadow of the rings narrowed and then disappeared behind the rings due to the changing position of the Earth relative to Saturn’s orbital plane.
The NEB(S) remained dark and several belts were detected further north although the designation of these will be completed after detailed latitude measurements have been completed. The northern part of the EZ(N) had a distinct yellowish coloration whereas the zone to the south of the EB appeared white. In some observations, the EB had a double structure. Several observers were able to resolve the brighter inner part of Ring A from the darker outer part. Sometimes the Enke gap was recorded. On Aug 24 and 29, Andy recorded spoke marking on Ring B which moved during the period of each night’s observation.

2023 Aug 23. 16:39 UT. Luke Gulliver. C14.

Trevor continued to detect the oval at ~55 deg South. However it was also detected from the UK by Peter on Aug 17 and faintly shown in his image opposite. This oval continues to show a drift of -3.1 to -3.2 degrees per day relative to System III. Trevor continued to record some small features at higher northern latitudes, in the EZ and SEB. Andy also recorded SEB activity. A more detailed analysis is required to follow the evolution of the SEB activity.

2023 Aug 17. 00:11 UT. Peter Tickner. C14. IR. High southern latitude oval.

The great storm of 2010/2011 produced a long-lived feature designated the Anticyclonic Vortex or AV. Since then, the AV has been visible in professional and high resolution amateur images. In recent years it has become smaller and more difficult to detect. Indeed during the early part of this apparition there were no observations of this object. However although faint, the AV was recovered by Trevor on Aug 24, close to its predicted position.

2023 Aug 24. 15:12UT. Trevor Barry. 408mm Newtonian IR. Polar projection showing AV

A number of transits of Tethys were observed, i.e. on Aug 5 (Trevor), Aug 28 (Efrain)

2023 Aug 28. 05;42 UT. Efrain Morales.305mm SCT. Tethys in transit.

2023 Sep

During this month, observations were received from: Paul Abel on Sep 3, 5 and 18, Dean Ashton on Sep 13, Trevor Barry on Sep 1, 9, 12, 16, 22 and 28, David Basey on Sep 9, Michael Buechner on Sep 26, Andy Casely on Sep 6, 10, 11 and 29, Marc Delcroix on Sep 7, Mike Foulkes on Sep 4 and 15, Massimo Giuntoli on Sep 29, David Graham on Sep 4, Carl Hansen on Sep 9, Rik Hill on Sep 5, 6, 15 and 18, Mike Hood on Sep 6, Bill Leatherbarrow on Sep 3 and 4, Geof Lewis on Sep 3, 5 and 14, Martin Lewis on Sep 9, Mark Longsdale on Sep 6 and 11, Richard McKim on Sep 3 and 9, Efrain Morales on Sep 5 and 7, Luigi Morrone on Sep 10, 12 and 15,Peter Mulligan on Sep 4, Damian Peach / Enrico Enzmann on Sep 7, 9 and 11, Alan Snook on Sep 5, 11, 13, an 14, David Strange on Sep 6, Peter Tickner on Sep 9 and 14, Jim Tomney on Sep 7, Anthony Wesley on Sep 8 and 14.

Damian Peach and Enrico Enzmann were able to observe from La Palma using a C14 and 800mm R-C.

Following opposition, the shadow of the planet onto the rings re-appeared.. Although most observations are made by imaging techniques a number of visual observations are also made as shown below. These show good agreement with the visual observations.

2023 Sep 03. 22:30. Richard McKim. 254mm Newtonian Visual Observation
2023 Sep 03. 23:18UT. Paul Abel. 305mm Newtonian. Visual observation
2023 Sep 4. 21:05 UT. David Graham. 230mm Mak Cass. Visual Observation
2023 Sep 11. 00:59 UT. Damian Peach / Enrico Enzmann. C14

The AV continued to be observed during this month, i.e. by Trevor on Sep 1, 9 and 22, by Anthony on Sep 14 and Andy on Sep 06. Its latitude was approximately 42 deg north and its longitude (System III) ranged from ~ 96 at the beginning of the month to ~92 at the end.

2023 Sep 06. 12:05UT. Andy Casely. C14 IR showing the AV.

The oval at at an approximate latitude of 55 deg south remained visible. The chart below shows the System III longitude measurements of its centre vs time with an overall drift of ~ 3.1 to 3.2 deg per day.

System III Longitude vs time of the centre of the oval at 55 deg S.

Transits of satellite Tethys continued during this month. Marl Lonsdale provide a video showing the transit of Tethys. Its shadow can sometimes be faintly detected Nf. The motion of Mimas, Dione and Enceladus is also shown.

2023 Sep 6. Mark Lonsdale. C14. Transit of Tethys video,

2023 Oct

During this month observations were received from:
Paul Abel on Oct 9 and 26, Trevor Barry on Oct 8 and 16. Mike Foulkes on Oct 9, 14, 21, 24, 26 and 30, David Graham on Oct 16 and 22, Mike Hood on Oct 3, 18, 19 and 25, Manos Kardasis on Oct 1, 4, 5,13 and 22, Geof Lewis Oct 24, Martin Lewis Oct 26, Richard McKim on Oct 8 and 22, and Chris Nuttall on Oct 16.

2023 Oct 1. 19:42 UT. Manos Kardasis. C14.
2023 Oct 16. 21:15 UT. Chris Nuttall. 300mm Newtonian. Colour drawing.
2023 Oct 22.20:45 UT. Richard McKim. 254mm Newtonian.
2023 Oct 25. 01:24 UT. Mike Hood. 200mm Refractor.
2023 Oct 26. 19:41 UT. Martin Lewis 444mm Newtonian.

The AV was again detected by Trevor but required high resolution for detection. The chart below shows the System III longitude measurements of its centre vs time.. These observations indicate a drift of approximately -0.2 deg per day with respect to System III.

System III Longitude vs time of the AV.

2023 Nov
During this month observations were received from: Paul Abel on Nov 15, Trevor Barry on Nov 1, 5and 17, Mike Foulkes on Nov 7, 14, 15 and 30, Massimo Giuntoli on Nov 26, David Graham on Nov 10, Mike Greenhill-Cooper on Nov 25, Rik Hill on Nov 7 and 8, Manos Kardasis on Nov 7, 8, 14, 20 and 30, Richard McKim on No 6 and 10, Efrain Morales on Nov 4 and 11, Alan Snook on Nov 7, and Peter Tickner on Nov 25.

In construction.

2023 Nov 04. 23:46 UT. Efrain Morales.305mm SCT.
2023 Nov 07. 17:11 UT. Manos Kardasis. C11. Red filter
2023 Nov 08. 03:07 UT. Rik Hill. 200mm Mak Cass. Shows satellites.
2023 Nov 15. 17:12 UT. Paul Abel. 305mm Newtonian. Visual observation
2023 Nov 17. 10:02UT. Trevor Barry. 408mm Newtonian IR (>685 nm). High contrast processing showing AV on CM.
2023 Nov 17. 11:29UT. Trevor Barry. 408mm Newtonian IR. Methane (889nm).
2023 Nov 23. 18:46UT. 1846 Mike Greenhill-Cooper. 20 inch Newtonian.
2023 Nov 25. 17:30 UT. Peter Tickner. 356mm SCT.

Dec 2023 / Jan 2024

During these months the planet was only visible in the western sky after sunset and fewer observations were received over this period, i.e.: from Trevor Barry on Dec 19, 20, 21 and 30 and on Jan 9

2023 Dec 30. 10:05 UT. Trevor Barry. 408mm Newtonian. IR> 685nm.

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