Glorious image of Saturn on day Cassini viewed Earth

We reported yesterday on the new picture of Earth and the Moon taken by NASA’s robotic space probe Cassini as its orbits giant planet Saturn.

Saturn photographed by Damian Peach on 19 July, with the position of Cassini indicated. South is at the top. Credit: Damian Peach

Now here is a similarly impressive image of Saturn from Earth, taken by an amateur astronomer as the international probe was aiming its own cameras our way.

It is the latest in a string of high quality cosmic photographs by Damian Peach, a British electronics engineer who has established himself as a world leader in this field of astronomy.

The detail in the image is remarkable, especially considering that the planet was only 23° above the horizon from Damian’s observing site at Hamble on England’s south coast.

Damian told Skymania News that he used an ASI120MM camera produced by the ZW Optical Company, attached to a 356 reflecting telescope. He said: “Conditions were excellent (purely by luck!) and i was able to get a good clear image of Saturn very close to the time Cassini imaged us.

“This image was taken shortly before Cassini’s photo run. Some faint diffuse spots can be seen on the disk but otherwise things look quiet.

“This will be my last session for this apparition. Very nice to end on a high note and I spent the last 20mins or so just visually observing the planet – a wonderful view through the eyepiece and again some remarkbly stable air given the altitude.”

Damian’s dedication to astrophotography has previously sent him to foreign climes to get the best possible images. One simply incredible photo of Jupiter, in which surface detail could be observed on moons Ganymede and Io, won Astronomy Photographer Of The Year Award, sponsored by Sky at Night magazine, in 2011.

See more of Damian’s superb photography on his website, including the prize-winning Jupiter image which is the first one on the “Best Of . .” link.

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