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Emily LakdawallaSeptember 22, 2005

Modest scopes could help with the Hyperion observations

I got an email last night from Anne Verbiscer, whom I had contacted about rounding up some amateur astronomers to help the Cassini mission with some photometric observations of Hyperion. She said that, contrary to what Amanda had told me, smaller telescopes equipped with CCD cameras can also do some fine photometric work. Here's what she said:

"You might be discouraging some potential observers by saying that they need to have a telescope 24-inches or larger. One may need a substantial telescope in order to see Hyperion through an eyepiece with your own eye, but a CCD on even a modest (~ 8-inch) telescope can make a long exposure and observe Hyperion quite easily.

"Also, not to nitpick about numbers, but a quick check (i.e. Google) on the V magnitude of Hyperion comes up 14.2, not 16.5. That is an estimate of its magnitude at opposition (which we are nowhere near...the phase angle now is more than 6 deg.), so it will be dimmer than 14.2, but not by more than 2 magnitudes."

I'm not an amateur astronomer myself but I suspect that there are a lot more people out there who have 8-inch telescopes equipped with CCDs than there are people who have 24-inch scopes. Have at it!

Read more: Cassini, Saturn's small moons, Saturn's moons, amateur astronomers, optical telescopes

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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