Spectacular Saturn
Keith Little of the San Antonio Astronomical Association shows of some PlanetQuest materials during their "Saturn Night Live" Star Party. He says: "Saturn first-timers are always fun to watch and listen to. The 'that's just a picture' line cracks me up."
(photo credit Bryan Tobias)

It is true, the view of Saturn through a telescope is so spectacular that some people think it is a trick. But this time seeing is believing. Depending on the size of the telescope and how dark the sky is, you may be able to see not just Saturn's rings, but also their shadow on the planet and the planet's shadow on them. Joan Chamberlin of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England in Maine heard from some students at South Portland Memorial Middle School: "I was told by many that their view of Saturn could not be real, since it looked exactly like the pictures that they had seen in books. Therefore, I must have somehow stuck a picture in my telescope!"

In Maryland, Skip Bird of the Westminster Astronomical Society, Inc. tells us about a star party and planetarium show run by Brian Eney: "Then we turned to Saturn. As has been said many times before the view of Saturn through a telescope is astounding. The people would look through the scope then say 'Wow'. We also looked at Orion, the Pleiades, and the Andromeda Galaxy, but everyone wanted to return to Saturn again and again."

At a Young Astronomers meeting in Sebastopol, California, Len Nelson of the Sonoma County Astronomical Society reports a similar phenomena: "The view of Saturn was a smashing hit...especially to those who had never seen it. And Titan was there too. 'Wow!' and 'Oh my gosh!' were heard everywhere."

If you have never seen Saturn through a telescope, this is the perfect time. Click here to contact your local astronomy club and find out when they will have their telescopes set up for viewing.