Friday, April 01, 2011

Observing Saturn with two different scopes

On March, 3rd 2011 I observed the planet Saturn trying to compare the views through two literally incomparable scopes; a Mewlon-210 reflector with a 25mm TAL Koenig eyepiece and a FSQ106ED (f/5) refractor with a 5mm Tak-LE eyepiece. Since the seeing was terrible and the sky was quite polluted at that night, the view through the refractor were steadier, sharper and more pleasant than through the reflector. However, I could observe one dim star through the Mewlon, that was invisible with the New-Q. Size does matter. The background had the same brightness on both scopes, but the Mewlon was equipped with a Baader Neodymium light pollution filter. I tried to go up with the magnification on Saturn. After trying to extend the native 530mm focal length of the refractor using a perfect Televue Powermate 2.5x, I observed some false color at 265x on Saturn. No, it was not the Powermate. Obviously, visual observers do need the Extender-Q accessory for planetary work. The Mewlon couldn't handle this magnification due to the atmosphaeric conditions.

Two weeks later, I decided to put the dedicated 1.6x NQ extender on the FSQ-106ED and try it on Saturn. Note, this magic part is much more than a simple barlow lens. It corrects the violet/ultraviolet spectrum for photographic applications, i.e. the blue stars do NOT bloat any more. Moreover, it provides a planet-friendly focal ratio of f/8 by also making the FSQ super-apochromatic and hence comparable with the TOA series. High magnifications of 236x are possible with the NewQ extender. Color free.
On Saturn the views are very sharp, crystal clear and a lot steadier than through a larger scope. One can see permanently Saturn's Cassini division on the entire field of view by using a 5mm LE eyepiece. This is amazing and in some way confirms the specification saying it provides a 44m flat field also suitable for photographic use.
Let's go back to the Mewlon again.. In fact, at that night I didn't want to compare it against the Q, since I know the abilities of the μ very well. The views are breathtaking when the seeing conditions permit it. I know what I am talking about. I have observed M13, M11, several galaxies and the planets with this reflector and I still can't forget the views through it. Aperture counts. So, I attached my old DBK21USB on it and I took a videoclip. After processing it with -a great german software piece for photo stacking- I was able to see the current storm on Saturn!!! :-) It's called "the Serpent Storm", see below:
Some astronomers say "the first four inches are the most important" but I think aperture still counts. That's the law of physics. cs px

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