A quick shot of Saturn, the first of 2013, not exactly under brilliant conditions though. Not a very dark sky at this time of year, Saturn’s elevation isn’t that high at 28 degrees, appalling seeing (atmospheric shimmering) from quite a warm day and its angular size is 18.5 arc seconds. It’s around magnitude +0.3 but of course, Saturn is famous for its rings and they are great to see at an angle of 18 degrees from line of sight. They are even better when you can see the Cassini Davison, a 3000 mile gap between A and B ring (although not in this picture). We are currently seeing Saturn’s southern hemisphere but I couldn’t see much of the muted cloud belts. Saturn rotates quite fast at 10.5 hours and can appear slightly squashed.
Apologies if the picture is small, after all it is nearly 850 million miles away. Image is a single shot taken with a Canon 1000D DSLR, 1/13th sec exposure, ISO 200, 3 x TeleVue Barlow, 8″ reflector telescope.