Some of the best images of Saturn are shown here. They all used the AO-2 adaptive optics system, and show nearly diffraction-limited images taken during good seeing in San Diego.
These images were taken with a 10" planetary Newtonian, projected to F/60 (14.1 m EFL), and an SBIG ST-7 CCD camera and CFW-8 color filter wheel.
Saturn, February 6, 2002
These were the best taken during this season, using the AO-2 at F/60. MaxImDL maximum entropy deconvolution was used as gently as possible to prevent generation of any spurious artifacts. The minimum unsharp masking was then used to increase the contrast. The images show some high-resolution details. The inner edge of the A ring is slightly brighter near the Cassini gap. The inner portion of the B ring is also dimmer, before it fades into the C ring. The planet is dimly seen through the A ring to the top, as well as through the C ring. The planet's shadow on the rings is very distinct.
The colored A ring effect is NOT seen in these images, contrary to what is suggested in the January 2003 issue of Sky and Telescope. These images are as good, or better, I think, than the ones shown in the magazine, in terms of resolution and signal-to-noise ratio. Stretching the original .FITS images (before converting to .JPG) every which way did not result in any visible color changes along the ring. A slight brightness effect was noted, but that was on a line between Saturn and the Sun, so some enhanced scattering could result from that. Note especially that the January 21 image was only a day after Di Scuillo's images, so the color effect, if real, must change on a relatively short time scale. New images in the 2002-2003 season will be examined in detail; earlier images in previous years (shown on my other web pages here) were examined, producing no eveidence of color.
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