SATURN OBSERVING ALERTS AND RECENT OBSERVATIONS
Please follow the above link for the most current Saturn observations (starting with 2009).
NEW ACTIVITY IN SATURN'S SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE:
Observers have already begun submitting visual observations for the 2005-065 Apparition in the form of drawings and visual numerical relative intensity estimates, as well as images captured using CCDs and webcams. As a superb example of recent Professional-Amateur collaboration, Michael L. Kaiser, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland contacted the ALPO Saturn Section on January 25th to see if any of our observers had by chance reported any unusual atmospheric activity on Saturn on January 23rd or 24th. The Cassini Radio Astronomy (CRA) team, of which he is a member, had detected a very sudden appearance of Saturn Electrostatic Discharges (SED) around this time. SEDs are actually the radio signatures of lightning flashes and have been studied by Cassini and Voyager. The CRA team has found in the past that SEDs were connected with atmospheric activity on Saturn that was observable from Earth. So, they are interested in any reports of unusual activity on January 23 or 24th as well as subsequent observations.
Several individuals responded with images of white spots that were imaged on January 24th just a few days prior to opposition along the northern border of the STeB (South Temperate Belt), protruding into the STrZ (South Tropical Zone), and persisting for several rotations of Saturn. An additional white spot was also detected as well on January 24th that seemed to last a couple of days, and on February 2nd observers reported suspected white ovals in the EZs (Equatorial Zone, Southern half). Needless to say, the CRA team was immensely delighted, remarking that this was exactly the kind of response they were looking for, and they will be relying on the ALPO Saturn Section for subsequent reports of atmospheric activity. So, Pro-Am cooperation by the ALPO Saturn Section is alive and well again this apparition, and the message here is for all Saturn observers to keep imaging and sketching the planet! Some sample images of the recent white spots mentioned above accompany this