Motion of Saturn in 2003-2004 opposition

Photos by Donald Collins - Canon A60 digital camera.  No telescope.


Find Saturn in each photograph by observing which object moves relative to the stars.  The word "planet" literally means "wanderer".  Each image pair contains an original image on the left (the result of about 10 15 sec exposures which are lined-up and stacked in order to get a better exposure).  The images on the right are color-enhanced.  The color enhancement shows the drastic differences in temperature of different stars.


Dec. 25, 2003

Dec. 25, 2003 - color enhanced.

Jan 10, 2004


Jan 10, 2004 Color enhanced

Jan 21, 2004 Color enhanced

Jan 21, 2004 Color enhanced
In these images, the camera is looking up toward Gemini, which is in the high eastern sky.  The eastern horizon is below the base of the photos, but level with the bottom of the photos.  It is known that all planets move toward the east.  Which direction does Saturn apparently move as the dates progress?  Does this make sense?  How do you explain the apparent motion? 

Tycho Brahe plotted the motion of planets with naked-eye observations and kept meticulous records between the dates 1576 and 1597.  It was from these records that Johannes Kepler (1609) discovered the laws of planetary motion that planets orbit the sun in elliptical orbits, and that planets further from the sun travel slower and take longer to complete their orbits