02/20/02 - The Final Frontier - Keeping track of different events that occur in space and astronomy is a side hobby of mine. However, despite my interest in the subject, I have never had access to a telescope to view various stellar events. Fortunately, this may have all changed. Susan's associate at The Cat's Meow, Dr. Nancy Bean, has access to both a telescope and optimal viewing conditions (she lives about 20 miles outside of Fort Worth). With an open invitation to drop by, we decided to join her on the night of February 20th. This particular evening offered one of several recent occurrences of the Moon occulting (passing in front of) Saturn.
We arrived at Nancy's house about 6:30PM with just enough time to set up the telescope and focus on the Moon. Saturn had passed behind the dark side of the Moon at about 5:40 and was expected to appear on the bright side a little after 7:00. Shortly after the designated time we saw the rings of Saturn peeking out from behind the Moon and it only took a few minutes before the entire planet was visible again. Although the above picture was not taken from our location, the image is practically identical to what was viewed through our telescope.
For Susan and me, this was our first time looking at Saturn through a telescope. Although the planet did not appear in all of the vibrant colors normally seen in a textbook, it was still fascinating and enjoyable. We both look forward to borrowing Nancy's telescope again for future stellar events.