Saturn Jupiter and Mars

  • Telescope: Celestron C8 with 2 x Barlow lens
  • Camera: Webcam Philips spc 900NC (RAW mode for Mars and Jupiter)
  • Mount: Skywatcher Heq5 Goto
  • Integration: 680 frame, 5 x sec (Mars, 2X)/900 frame, 10 x sec (Saturn)/400 frame, 5 x sec (Jupiter)
  • Date, Location, Temp/Software: August 2007-2009, Rosignano (Italy), 24°C/Registax, Photoshop

Saturn. It is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter. It is a gas giant with an average radius of about nine times that of Earth. It only has one-eighth the average density of Earth; however, with its larger volume, Saturn is over 95 times more massive. Saturn’s interior is most likely composed of a core of iron–nickel and rock (silicon and oxygen compounds). Its core is surrounded by a deep layer of metallic hydrogen, an intermediate layer of liquid hydrogen and liquid helium, and finally a gaseous outer layer. Saturn has a pale yellow hue due to ammonia crystals in its upper atmosphere. An electrical current within the metallic hydrogen layer is thought to give rise to Saturn’s planetary magnetic field, which is weaker than the Earth’s, but has a magnetic moment 580 times that of Earth due to Saturn’s larger size. Saturn’s magnetic field strength is around one-twentieth of Jupiter’s.The outer atmosphere is generally bland and lacking in contrast, although long-lived features can appear. Wind speeds on Saturn can reach 1,800 km/h (1,100 mph; 500 m/s), higher than on Jupiter, but not as high as those on Neptune. The planet’s most famous feature is its prominent ring system, which is composed mostly of ice particles, with a smaller amount of rocky debris and dust. At least 82 moons are known to orbit Saturn, of which 53 are officially named; this does not include the hundreds of moonlets in its rings. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, and the second-largest in the Solar System, is larger than the planet Mercury, although less massive, and is the only moon in the Solar System to have a substantial atmosphere (Wikipedia).

Jupiter.  It is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass one-thousandth that of the Sun, but two-and-a-half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined. Jupiter is one of the brightest objects visible to the naked eye in the night sky, and has been known to ancient civilizations since before recorded history. It is named after the Roman god Jupiter. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can be bright enough for its reflected light to cast shadows, and is on average the third-brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus. Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen with a quarter of its mass being helium, though helium comprises only about a tenth of the number of molecules. It may also have a rocky core of heavier elements, but like the other giant planets, Jupiter lacks a well-defined solid surface. Because of its rapid rotation, the planet’s shape is that of an oblate spheroid (it has a slight but noticeable bulge around the equator). The outer atmosphere is visibly segregated into several bands at different latitudes, resulting in turbulence and storms along their interacting boundaries. A prominent result is the Great Red Spot, a giant storm that is known to have existed since at least the 17th century when it was first seen by telescope. Surrounding Jupiter is a faint planetary ring system and a powerful magnetosphere. Jupiter has 79 known moons, including the four large Galilean moons discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Ganymede, the largest of these, has a diameter greater than that of the planet Mercury.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. In English, Mars carries a name of the Roman god of war and is often referred to as the ‘Red Planet. The latter refers to the effect of the iron oxide prevalent on Mars’ surface, which gives it a reddish appearance distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth.

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