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Posted: February 19, 2009 7:51 p.m.

Observing Saturn

Presentation and viewing at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, Feb. 21

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Every 14 years or so, the rings of the giant planet Saturn seem to disappear as seen from Earth because of how the two planets align with each other.

With the ring plane of Saturn now almost edge-on as seen from Earth, the Charlie Elliott chapter of the AAC is pleased to present noted Saturn observing expert and author Dr. Julius L. Benton, Jr., Ph.D., as its special guest this month to explain how beginner and amateur astronomers with even the most modest equipment can see this phenomenon of Saturn right now from their own backyards.

Dr. Benton’s presentation will be at 3 p.m., Feb. 21, at the CE Wildlife Visitor Center. Light refreshments will be served. The program will be geared to the general public and will include a number of graphics and visual aids to show the how’s and why’s of Saturn’s ring plane changes.

After the presentation — and weather permitting — all are invited to enjoy an evening of observing near the Visitor Center either with their own telescopes or by viewing through those supplied by astronomy club members.

A Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS), Dr. Benton has authored many articles on planetary observing. His 2005 book "Saturn and How to Observe It" provides a compendium of the latest information, and amateur and professional Saturn images, followed by advice on how to best observe Saturn using a variety of telescope apertures, color filters and magnifications.

Dr. Benton is coordinator of the Venus and Saturn observing sections for the Assn of Lunar & Planetary Observers (ALPO), a worldwide organization of professional astronomers and serious students of solar system astronomy.

On Feb. 21, Saturn will be very bright and high in the southeastern sky by 11 p.m., very well-placed for late evening observing.

The CE Wildlife Center is located at 543 Elliott Trail, Mansfield, GA, 30055, off Highway 11, about 10 miles south of I-20, Exit 98.

The CE chapter of the Atlanta Astronomy Club is open to all persons and meets monthly at the CE Wildlife Visitors Center. More info online at http://ceastronomy.org/blog/home, or contact Ken Poshedly at (678) 516-1366; e-mail to poshedly@bellsouth.net.

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