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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Romance (and Saturn) is in the Air

Coming on the heels of our being named a Top 10 Romantic Tour for Valentine's Day in Israel by, we were named a Top 10 Wedding Guest Tour by Lee Balot and Yoash Limon, desert tour guides and proprietors of  the Greenbackpackers Hostel, gave us the opportunity to strut our stuff last Thursday by throwing a wedding star party for their guests in Mitzpe Ramon. About 18 people joined them for a night under the stars from our observing location above and behind Mitzpe Ramon. Aside from the bride and groom, Saturn was the star, so to speak of the evening, who stole everyone's heart. I've gotten comments on Saturn for this apparition like, "No Way!", or "You painted that on the lens!", and "This is the highlight of our tour!" Yes, Saturn is that good. Sometimes it all people will let me show, so I try to show it last. The thing about Saturn is that it looks exactly like you expect t to, even in a small telescope. It's too far away for the largest telescopes to show much more detail than a small one, and the main features are large enough to show well in small telescopes. It's the amateur's "Goldilocks planet".

A few people try to capture a photo of the planet with their cameras or iPhone, usually to no avail. It's just too hard to hold the camera steady over the eyepiece to get a shot. But one resourceful guest, Estee Nemeth, who is in the film industry, used her iPhone's video and edited the stream down to the one good frame that showed Saturn well.

Saturn, by Estee Nemeth

It's a bit overexposed and blurry, but there's no doubt about what it is. You can even see the outer charcoal colored A ring and the inner, bright B ring. The pencil thin dark line that separates them is the Cassini Division, where ring material is absent. The photo below shows many of the details that can be seen on a good night with our telescopes. But you must have excellent, steady "seeing", and also alot of patience and time at the eyepiece. As I tell people, "It's called observing, not looking."

Saturn, by Bob English

Last Friday Lee and Yoash got married. We wish them Mazel Tov, and send us some guests!!

Yoash Limon and Lee Balot

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