Saturn Blog

Saturn Observations 2021 – 2022

Introduction

2021 December  

2021 November

2021 October

2021 September 

2021 August

2021 July 

2021 June

2021 May

2021 April

2021 March

2021 February

Introduction

During this apparition, Saturn is at opposition on 2021 Aug 2. With a declination of approximately 18°S, it is not so well placed for north temperate latitude observers but very well placed for observers in equatorial and southern latitudes. Some of the observations received are shown in the Saturn gallery for this apparition.

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2021 December 

During this month observations have been received from Trevor Barry (December 6) and  Manos Kardasis (December 2).

2021 November

During this month observations have been received from Trevor Barry (November 8, 16,26 and 29),   Mike Foulkes (November 1 and 2), Rik Hill (November 7), Manos Kardasis (November 5 and 12), Detlev Niechoy (November 22), Peter Tickner (November 4). 

All observers have recorded the broad shadow of the planet onto the rings, plus the prominent NEB(S) which is much darker than the NEB(N). The warm coloured zone south of the NPR is still recorded in some observations. 

Trevor Barry was again able to image the small AV on November 8. He has also imaged continuing activity in the EZ and a bright spot near the North Polar Hexagon. 

2021 October 

During this month observations have been received from Trevor Barry (October 3, 7, 11 16, 24 and 25), David Basey (October 15), Emilio Colombo (October 8 and 17), Chris Dole (October 11), Mike Foulkes (October 11 and 13) Rick Hill (October 2, 7, 11, 23, 26, and 31), Mike Hood (October 11), Detlev Niechoy (October 8, 23 and 28), (Manolo Rodriguez (October 4) Peter Tickner (October 9 and 25).

The structure of the major belts and zones is similar to those observed during September. 

Mike Hood was able to image the Enke Complex on October 11. This is also shown in Trevor Barry’s images.

The warm coloured zone lying south of the NPR still persists and is shown in images by Trevor Barry, and Mike Hood and Manolo Rodriguez. 

Trevor Barry has once again been able to capture several spots at differing latitudes including the AV (October 3, 7 and 11) although it is very difficult to spot. His own latitude measurements indicate a slight southerly change in latitude. He was also been able to image the North Polar Hexagon which is well shown in his images on October 11 and 25. His observation on October 25 shows some detail in the EZ.

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2021 September 

So far in September observations have been received from Gianluigi Adamoli (September 12), Kevin Bailey (September 7),  Trevor Barry (September 1, 6, 7, 14, 16, 21, 22 and 29), David Basey (September 5 and 15), Michael Buechner (September 3),  Maurice Collins (September 4 and 18), Chris Dole (September 8),  Mike Foulkes (September 6, 7, 12, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27and 29), Rik Hill (September 7 and 14),    Mike Hood (September 6, 13 and 27), Manos Kardasis (September 5, 16, 26 and 29), Milosz Leszewicz (September 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, and 16), Geof Lewis (September 9), Martin Lewis (September 5, 17,  and 24), Detlev Niechoy (September 3, 5, 8, and 25),  (Mattia Picolli (September 7 and 14), Davide Pistritto (September 24), Damian Peach (September 16), Manolo Rodriguez (September 20 and 25), Peter Tickner (September 4 , 6 15, 16and 17), Jim Tomney (September 5)

The widening shadow of the globe onto the rings is shown in all observations. 

A very small dark cap is present around the North pole. It is suspected in some observations but definitely shown in observations by Damian Peach, Manos Kardasis, Milosz Leszewicz, Martin Lewis, Mike Hood and Trevor Barry.

The light orange zone just south of the NPR is again visible in several observations (Damian Peach, Luigi Morrone), Manolo Rodriguez, Manos Kardasis, Mike Hood, Milosz Leszewicz, Peter Tickner, and Trevor Barry) 

All observers have recorded the Cassini Division. 

Some observers have recorded the darker outer part and brighter inner part of Ring A (Jim Tomney, Mike Hood) 

Some observers with higher resolution have recorded the Enke complex within Ring A. (Damian Peach, Martin Lewis and Trevor Barry)  

The shadow of the rings onto the globe is visible through Ring C(M) but very narrow. It is well shown in Martin Lewis’s observation on September 11 and Damian Peach’s observation on September 16.

Several of the satellites including Enceladus were imaged by Mattia  Picolli on September 11. 

The AV is now very very difficult to detect and  was  only just visible in Terry Barry’s images taken on September 1, 21 and 29.

Trevor Barry has also provided very high resolution images; particularly on September 7 which shows the two long lived bright spots on the southern edge of the NPR and spots at other latitudes. Activity continues in the Southern EZ as a series of small light plumes also as shown in Trevor’s images on September 7.  In addition. some of these also showed up as bright  in his methane light images. On some of his polar projections, the vertices of the North polar hexagon are just visible. White spot activity in the EZ(N) EB and EZ(S) is also shown in some of Milosz’s images taken on September 8, 11, 12 and 15

On September 21, Trevor imaged one of the waves or ripples on the NEBs. This appeared to push some of the darker NEB(S) material northwards so that it interrupted the narrow bright zone just to the north of the NEB(S). A wave or ripple was also imaged by Milosz Leszewicz on September 14.

On September 22, Trevor imaged a number of bright spots at various latitudes, including one in the EZ(N) and several small ones in the EZ(S) bright in methane light. 

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2021 August

So far in August, observations have been received from Paul Abel (August 3, 12, 16, 23  and 28), Gianluigi Adamoli (August 20), Dean Ashton (August 25), Kevin Bailey (August 28), Trevor Barry (August 2, 5,7, 8, 17, 19, 24, 27, 28 and 30),  David Basey (Aug 4 and 16), Marc Delcroix (August 19, 26 and 28),  Peter Edwards (August 10 and 12), Mike Foulkes (August 10, 12,  16 and 23). Rik Hill (August 2, 4, 5, 8, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26), Mike Hood (August 9 and 24), Chris Hooker (August 23 and 28), Milosz Leszewicz (August 31), Geof Lewis (August 28), Luigi Morrone (August 14 and 15), Detlev Niechoy (August 3, 10, 14, 15, and 24), Damian Peach (August 27), Manolo Rodriguez (August 23 and 30), John Sussenbach (August 30),  Peter Tickner (August 12 and 28) Craig Towell (August 26) .
The planet was at opposition on August 2. As can be seen from the above list, several observers were able to observe for a couple of days around the time of opposition or on the date of opposition itself. The surge in brightness of the rings (the opposition effect) was shown in observations by Paul, Trevor, David, Rik and David.  Rik’s images taken either side of opposition show this effect very well.
All observations show the major belts and zones recorded earlier in the apparition. The warm coloured zone just north of the NPR continues to be visible in some observations (Trevor, Peter E., Mike H., Luigi., Damian). A high level of belt and zone structure was revealed in an image taken by Danian and Enrico Enzmann on August 27 using a 50cm Cassegrain.

The changing geometry between the Earth, the Sun and Saturn meant that the shadow of the rings onto the globe became hidden behind the rings in early August. However a hint of a very narrow shadow visible through Ring C(M) was suspected in Luigi’s observation on August 14. It is also appears very narrow in Damian’s image on August 27

Following opposition, the planet’s shadow onto the rings is now visible on the f. side, as shown in several observations.

Several observers recorded detail in the rings. The Enke gap and Enke complex were shown in Luigi’s Peter E’s, Damian’s and Trevor’s images.

Rik hill provided an image taken in the Methane band showing Rings A and B as bright, the planet as dark but with a bright EZ.

Trevor’s continuing high resolution observations have again shown some small spots at various latitudes including .

  • Small but bright spot activity in northern and southern EZ. (August 2, 7, 8, 17 and  19)
  • Waves on the southern edge of the NEB (August 7)
  • A couple of bright spots south of the NPR (August 2, 5 and 8).

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2021 July

During July, Paul Abel produced drawings on July 10, 14 and 22 and Gianluigi Adamoli produced drawings on July 9 and 28. . Images were received from Trevor Barry (July 8, 25, 26, and 28), Kevin Bailey (July 18), David Basey (July20), Chris Dole (July 18), Mike Foulkes (July 16, 17/18, 19 and 21), Mike Hood (July 26), Mark Lonsdale (July 5), Luigi Morone (July 25), Detlev Niechoy (July 11),  (Damian Peach (July 20 and 21), Manolo Rodriguez (July, 5, 9 and 16), and Peter Tickner (July 23).

A small dark polar ‘cap’ was visible around the north pole in Damian’s, Mark’s, Luigi’s and Trevor’s images. In the best images, it was surrounded by a faint reddish coloured zone.

No observation showed an obvious indication of the vertices of the North Polar Hexagon, even in polar projections.

Damian’s images also showed a reddish zone further north.

The belt at an approximate latitude of 48 to 52 degrees (planetographic) TBD was very prominent and appeared in all observations.

The NEB(N) was faint whereas the NEB(S) was prominent and appeared in all observations. It appeared dark in Manolo’s IR images. This had a warm brown colouration as shown in many images and Paul’s drawings. The NEBZ appeared a warm of orangey colouration in Damian’s and Luigi’s images. Trevor’s images on July 8 and 25 again revealed some ripples or wave structure on the NEBs.

The northern EZ was the brightest zone. The EB was faint and appeared double in Damian’s images. On July 8, Trevor’s high resolution images revealed some bright spots in the southern EZ, related to those reported in June.

A small segment of the southern hemisphere was visible and Damian’s, Mark’s, Mike H and Trevor’s images show this wasn’t uniform with a possible narrow belt and zone within it.

All observers recorded the Cassini Division, even in poor seeing.

Damian’s, Manolo’s and Trevor’s images showed the Enke complex and other ring detail. Ring C was faintly visible in each ansa in Damian’s, David’s, Luigi’s, Manolo’s, and Trevor’s images plus drawings by Paul.

Collectively, all observations showed the gradual narrowing of the globe shadow on the rings as the planet moves towards opposition. They also showed the narrowing of the ring shadow on the globe; which lay just north of where Ring A crosses the planet.

Trevor’s images taken on July 28 show a slight brightening of the rings as opposition is approached.

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2021 June

The first observation from the UK was made by Paul Abel on June 1 using 305mm Newtonian. The major belts were recorded plus Ring C and the shadow of the globe onto the rings which was projected onto the southern hemisphere. Similar features were shown in his observation on June 23.

Trevor Barry made some very high resolution images on June 4 and June 5 using R, G, B, IR and methane filters. These showed several of the features reported earlier including the AV which appeared very small plus a light spot on the NPRs and small spots at other latitudes. Such features were easier to detect in IR.
The most interesting feature observed on June 5 was a small bright spot which appeared in the southern EZ, just a degree or so south of the planet’s equator. This was also visible in methane light images. Although bright, it appeared very small, and needed the highest resolution to detect.

Subsequent observations by Trevor on June 20 showed a short disturbed region of small bright spots at this latitude and again on June 29.

The planet and its rings were predicted to occult the star TYC 6349-00492-1 during the early hours (UT) June 28. Details were given in the BAA handbook. In addition this occultation was given as an observer’s challenge on the main BAA web page. This was going to be a difficult observation as the star was only magnitude 10.2.
On June 24 at 01:14 UT, Nick James was able to image some of Saturn’s satellites plus this star using a 150mm Schmidt-Cassegrain
David Gray was able to observe on June 28 using his large 415mm Dall-Kirkham. Due to the planet’s low altitude, part of the aperture of his telescope was blocked off. David was able to see both the star and Tethys; both often with difficulty. He was able to observe up to 00:16 UT before cloud moved in; estimation the star was ~ 2 arc seconds from the planet’s f. limb, just north of the rings.

Efrain Morales (Puerto Rico) provided his first images of this apparition on June19. Luigi Morrone also imaged on June 24. Both of these sets of these images showed the major belts and zones.

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2021 May

Anthony Wesley (Australia) provided his first image of this apparition using a 370mm Newtonian. This showed the belt and zone structure very well. Detail in the rings, such as the Enke complex in Ring A was visible. The shadow of the rings onto the globe was projected onto the southern hemisphere. The limb of the southern hemisphere appeared bluish with what appeared to be a warm narrow belt at ~ -40 S.

Trevor Barry made observations on May 17, 29 and 30. A bright spot was observed on the NPRs  on May 30.

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2021 April

Observations by Trevor Barry on April 1, 2, 3, 11, 21 and 24 showed belt structure described above.  The IR images taken on April 1 and 21 each showed a light spot at the southern edge of the NPR. Otherwise no spots were detected in observations made on the other dates.

However on April 25, Trevor had good seeing and took several R, G, B and IR images. A small dark region was resolved at the North Pole. Two light spots were also visible just inside the NPR. Some ripples were detected on the southern edge of the dark mid temperate latitude belt described above (designated NNTB). The AV was also detected. Some lighter regions were detected in the EZ in the methane images.

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2021 March

Trevor Barry provided observations on Mar 11, 23, 30 and 31. With improved altitude and seeing these showed more detail.

IR Images taken on Mar 11 show a white spot on the southern edge of the NPR. This may be identical to that observed on February 18.

IR and colour images taken on Mar 30 and particularly on Mar 31 show more belt structure.

Very provisional measurements give the latitude of NEB(S) between +16 and +25 deg (planetographic), with a fainter NEB(N) further northx. A fainter belt lay between +38 and +42 deg (provisional designation NTB). A darker belt lay between + 48 and +52 deg (provisional designation NNTB). A further fainter belt lay between +58 and +61 deg with the northern edge of the NPR at +68 deg.  A fainter EB was also visible. The designations and latitudes of these belts will be confirmed with further latitude measurements.

The Mar 31 images showed the faint long lived feature designated as the Anticyclonic Vortex (AV) which has been present for a number of years and visible at north temperate latitudes. This was difficult to spot even in these high resolution images. The north polar hexagon was  visible in the IR images. Again a bright spot was detected on the southern edge of the NPR plus a couple of ‘ripples’ impinging on the NEBs. Similar features were observed during the last apparition.

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2021 February

As in recent apparitions, Trevor Barry in Australia, using a 408mm Newtonian, has so far provided the earliest observation of the apparition, i.e. on February 18. He also observed on February 24. In both cases the planet was observed at low altitude, in poor seeing and in with a IR filter.

These images showed a dark NEB(S) and a dark belt at mid temperate latitudes (see below) . The belt structure appeared similar to the last apparition. A bright spot appeared on the southern edge of the NPR near the f. limb. A small segment of the southern hemisphere was also visible with a narrow ring shadow projected onto this segment to the south of where the rings crossed the disk.

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