Some Lunar Views and Spotting Saturn’s Cassini Divide

I love setting up a telescope with the Sun setting and the sky slowly transitioning from day to night. There is something exciting about planning what will be viewed and the anticipation of what is to come.

The night started out with some brief views of the crescent Moon. This is my favorite time to view the lunar surface. The shadows that are cast from the mountains and craters display incredible depth and make the Moon almost appear 3d though the eyepiece. Sadly, anything over half full and its surface becomes boringly flat, turning the Moon into a nuisance that does nothing more than spoil the view of deep sky objects with its light pollution.

Continuing into the evening, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Saturn was visible in the early nighttime sky. Easily, a favorite of mine and Lauren’s, its rings are now tilted to a point that will offer incredible views of the planet for years to come. Pushing the telescope up to 200 times magnification revealed the beautiful angle of its rings as well as the cassini divide that splits the rings themselves.

Holding up my iPhone to the eyepiece, I was able to take some pretty good video of the planet. The cassini divide is too thin to view in the video, but you can easily make out the divide between the rings and planet disc itself.

Starlog: May 25th & 26th, 2012

3 thoughts on “Some Lunar Views and Spotting Saturn’s Cassini Divide

  1. I also have an Orion XT8, though it’s the classic (no intelliscope!). I just received it as a Christmas gift and I’m excited to really try it out. Unfortunately in Chicago right now it’s freezing cold outside so I’ve only had one night of viewing since I assembled it.

    I was wondering what kind of eyepiece and filters you are using to capture these images? I’ve got the 1.25” eyepiece that came with the telescope, a 2x barlow, and now have various filters. I’m also interested in photography and looking for mounts for a digital SLR if you have any suggestions!

    I’m excited to go to my first sky viewing party! Thanks for putting up such an exceptional site!

    • Nick, the XT8 is a great scope! Once it warms up in Chicago I’m sure you will get some excellent views with it. The images I took here with my iPhone were through a 6mm zhumell planetary eyepiece. This would provide you some excellent views of the moon and planets. This eyepiece can be bought from for around 70 dollars. I would also suggest a nice low power eyepiece for your scope. One I really enjoy and have reviewed on this site is the Orion 2 in. 38mm Q70 series. This will provide the widest field of view we can achieve in our scope. For filters I would start out with a good lunar filter which are pretty cheap and the Meade 38a, 56, 21, and 8 planetary color filters. This should give you a great start, I have gotten great use out of these accessories! Thanks so much for posting and let me know if you have any more questions.

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