Saturn Blog 2022
Saturn Observations 2021 – 2022
During this apparition, Saturn is at opposition on 2022 Aug4. With a declination of approximately 15°S, its position is improving 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.
Observations for this month have been received from Michael Bueckner (August 3), Rik Hill (USA) (August 2), Johan Warell (August 4).
Opposition was on August 4 and some observations show the ring brightening.
Observations for this month have so far been received from: Paul Abel (July 13 & 18), Trevor Barry (July 2, 5, 13, 14, 25, 26 & July 27), Michael Bueckner (July 18), Mike Foulkes (July 18), Richard McKim (July 18), Efrain Morales (July 1, 5, 6, 9, 11 & 18 ), Luigi Morone (July 18 & 21), Damian Peach (July 11) Peter Tickner (July 5, 11, 15,17 &18), Johan Warell (Sweeden) (July 20 and 29). Callum Scott Wingrove (July 9).
The major event of this month was the transit of satellite Iapetus on July 17/18.
The following observers were able to see this event: Paul, Michael B, Mike F, Richard, Efrain, Luigi and Peter. An analysis of the observations is to follow.
The belt and zone structure recorded is similar to that observed in June.
The globe shadow on the rings is becoming narrower as we approach opposition.
The ring shadow onto the globe is also becoming narrower.
Efrain’s methane images on July 5 and 11 show the rings to be bright but the planet itself appears dark apart from a very dull EZ. However at higher resolution, Trevor’s methane image on July 5 shows belt and zone structure with the EZ (S) as a light feature and the brightest zone in this waveband just S of the NPR.
Trevor has produced some high resolution images showing small features on the planet, which move with the rotation of the planet. Although the Anticyclonic Vortex was visible in some of Trevor’s images taken during the previous apparition, so far during thsi apparition, it has not been detected.
Observations for this month have so far been received from Paul Abel (UK) (June 16 & 22), Trevor Barry (June 11, 13 & 21), Mike Hood (June 2, 10, 14, 20 & 22), Damian Peach (June 15 & 17), Davide Pistritto (Italy)(June 3), Efrain Morales (Puerto Rico) (June 9, 11, 21 & 25), John Sussenbach (The Netherlands) (June 2 & June 14), Peter Tickner (June 2, 11, 15, 18, & 23) Jim Tomney (USA) (June 4).
In some high resolution images, a small dark cap has been recoded at the north pole.
The polar region itself has appeared dark surrounded by a darker belt.
A warmer, orangey coloured zone lying to the south, has been resolved in some observations.
The dark but narrow belt referred to below, is still visible. A fainter belt is visible just to the north and also just to the south.
The NEB(S) is the most prominent belt with a warm tone but the NEB(N) is much fainter.
The EB is gray and sometimes appears double in some observations. When seen as double the northern component is the darker.
Some belt structure has been detected in the southern hemisphere, with a slightly bluish zone adjacent to where the rings cross the planet.
Trevor’s high resolution images have revealed a number of both light and dark spots at several latitudes.
The planet appears dark in Peter’s methane image on June 25.
Some ring detail has been detected in Efrain’s and Damian’s images
Some ring detail in Damian’s and Efrain’s observations.
Observations have been received from Trevor Barry (May 1, May 8), Mike Hood (USA) (May 30) Peter Tickner (UK) (May 26).
Both observers recorded the major belts and zones and the split of Ring A into A1 and A2.
Trevor recorded some fine detail on both May 1 in both IR and RGB including:
- Spots in the Northern hemisphere.
- Three ripples on the NEN(N) /EZ boundary.
- Dark features in the southern hemisphere.
- NEB ripples and spots in the southern hemisphere were also detected on May 8.
Observations have been received from Trevor Barry (April 2, 12 and 21), Darryl Milika and Pat Nicholas (Australia) (April 29) Anthony Wesley (Australia) (April 8, 9, 11, 13,14, 16, 17, 19).
On April 29, Darryl and Pat were able to capture a very rare event, i.e. a transit of satellite Iapetus across the disk of Saturn.
The orbital planes of the satellites from Titan inwards lie very close the the plane of Saturn’s rings. Transits of these satellites and indeed other satellite phenomena (Occultations and eclipses) can only occur for a few years either side of when the rings are edge on. The window when transits are feasible is longer for the inner satellites such as Mimas compared to that of Titan which is further from the planet. The rings will next be edge on to the Sun in 2025 May.
Satellite Iapetus orbits the planet at a much higher inclination and so transits can only occur a few years before each edge on phase. Further due to its long orbital period, (nearly 80 days) makes such events rather rare. The last recorded transits in the Section records occurred in 2007. However such events are occurring this year.
Darryl and Pat were able to observe from 19:51 UT until 20:41 UT. Five images were taken over this period, which were also used to produce an animation. These show the satellite appearing as a dark spot at a planetographic latitude of approximately 55 degrees, projected against a brighter zone.
All other observations show the major belts and zones described in April plus the bright zone south of the ring shadow onto the planet. Sometimes the division of Ring A into rings A1 and A2 was detected.
Trevor’s IR polar projections show little contrast between the North Polar Hexagon and the region surrounding it. However the RGB polar projection shows a little more contrast between these regions.
On April 12, Trevor recorded some finer detail, including a ‘ripple’ on the southern edge of the NEB(S), a small dark spot and light spots were seen in the EZ. Some features were also seen in the southern hemisphere.
The first observations of apparition were made by Trevor Barry (Australia) on March 2 at an altitude between 10 and 14 degrees. Although the seeing was initially poor, it improved to allow some images in IR (>685nm) to be taken. More of the southern hemisphere was visible due to the reduced ring inclination. The shadow of the rings onto the disk was prominent and was projected onto the southern hemisphere; south of where the rings crossed the planet. The NEB(S) was darker than the NEB(N) with a darker edge to the NPR. A dark belt at mid temperate latitudes (Planetographic latitude approximately 48 degrees) was also visible.
Trevor also observed on Mar 12, 20 and 26 and from Mar 26, R, G, B images were taken to produce colour composites. These showed an EB and a lighter zone south of where the rings crossed the planet. A narrow belt was detected south of this zone. A methane light image showed the major belts as dark and the EZ as a dull light zone.