A practical example of “astronomics”

Last night I observed Saturn for the first time in several years. There was moderate air turbulence and a little light pollution and the sky was not completely dark. Saturn was clear and well resolved at a maximum magnification of ~62x as a white disk with an encircling ring facing toward and to the right of me.

My scope is a Celestron C-6  reflector on a Super Polaris equatorial mount purchased in 1985. The focal length is 7.5 and the scope is intended for deep sky observing with some planetary observing too.

Here is the lesson:

The prime factors to successful observing of Saturn with a quality scope are 1. an equatorial mount for stability, 2. limited or no air turbulence, and 3. limited light pollution. These latter two will come together sometimes and the viewing is dramatic!

One can get better resolution of a planet, and  higher usable magnification, by using a longer focal length instrument. But the field of view will be narrower. This is OK for planets, but not so good for deep sky observing. Higher focal length instruments are usually long refractive scopes except for the catadioptric scopes which are short  and gain focal length through the use of several interior mirror surfaces. Because of the multiple reflective surfaces they are not quite as bright as an equivalent refractor, but are easily portable (so to speak).

That is all.


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