- Fifteen-year-old Marcus Reed snapped Saturn at 4am from his back garden
- He used a 102mm reflector telescope and an iPhone app to spot the planet
- Saturn’s rings around the planet can be clearly seen in the picture
A 15-year-old boy has managed to capture a picture of Saturn using a telescope in his back garden that many seasoned astronomers would be proud of.
Marcus Reed, from Seaford, East Sussex, managed to capture the clear image of the gas giant, complete with its dramatic rings, using a 102mm diameter reflector telescope.
The schoolboy said he stayed up until 4am, using an iPhone app called Sky Guide to pinpoint the planet in the sky.
Marcus, who is a keen amateur astronomer, said: ‘I took the picture at about four in the morning.
‘I had turned on the app and saw that Saturn was visible, so straight away I put my slippers on and ran downstairs, setting up my telescope on the back lawn in my pyjamas.
‘I was pleasantly surprised when I looked back and saw I had such a clear picture – Saturn is my favourite planet.
‘The amount of positive feedback I received surprised me massively.
‘I have been interested in astronomy and photography for a long time, and I really enjoy it – I use my telescope every night when it’s clear.’
He added that he hoped to one day follow in the footsteps of British astronaut Tim Peake.
‘I’m in the air cadets – when I’m older I’d like to join the RAF then become a commercial pilot, but after that I aspire to join the European Space Agency as an astronaut,’ he explained.
Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest in the solar system, has been viewed by astronomers in the night’s sky since ancient times.
However, it was not until 1675 when Galileo first discovered the strange rings that encircle the planet with his telescope, but at the time he believed they were moons.
In 1655, Christiaan Huygens used a telescope with a greater magnification to observe the rings in detail and described them as a disk surrounding the planet.
Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft has since provided some of the most detailed close up images of Saturn and its rings, revealing them to be huge disks of rock and ice surrounding the planet.
Tom Kerss, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, said: ‘Marcus has done a fantastic job at capturing the view of Saturn we might see with our eyes using a good beginner’s telescope.
‘The familiar rings are clearly seen encircling the gas giant, which as of this month is rising before the Sun.
‘At the present time one of Saturn’s poles appears to be covered by its rings, which are more inclined from our perspective, but in 7 years or so Saturn will once again look as Marcus has captured it here.
‘The slight colour fringing is an artefact of the telescope’s optics (and the Earth’s atmosphere) bringing different colours of light to slightly different focus positions, just as we observe when looking with our own eyes.
‘This photo really goes to show how the cameras we all carry can be used to get started with astrophotography as long as we have the determination to get outside and patience to take the right shot.’
SOMETHING STIRS DEEP INSIDE SATURN TO CREAT RIPPLES IN ITS RINGS
Strange ripples in the rings around Saturn have suggested there may be something moving deep inside the gas giant.
Astronomers have found unusual wave like patterns in the rock and ice that make up Saturn’s rings which appear to be travelling towards the centre of the planet.
Most of these ‘waves’ in Saturn’s rings move outwards as a result of the gravitational pull by the planet’s 62 moons drawing material in the rings towards them.
But planetary scientists say there must be something else within the planet itself causing the patterns in the opposite direction.
They have calculated that one possible explanation may be a disturbance or object far beneath the surface of Saturn spinning so rapidly it makes a full rotation once every seven hours.
Researchers hope that by studying the wave structures in the rings it may be possible to unravel Saturn’s internal structure beneath its dense atmosphere, which is mainly made of hydrogen and helium.
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