Saturn: What it looked like thru my small refractor telescope.

My Hacked Picture of Saturn, from NASA/JPL. Last nite [Apr. 11th] (this AM, actually, around 5:20AM), with perfect viewing conditions, I was able to see: Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, all lined up in a row in the southern sky, three planets in a line (on the ecliptic plane, obviously). For the first time, I was able to see a clear (very tiny) image of Saturn, similar to this NASA image I scarfed from the JPL Lab site.

Saturn was full-disk lit (unlike this image), and appeared perfectly tilted, with a clear ring wrapped around it (similar to the above image). I used a small 2 and 1/2 inch refractor telescope, with a little 45% angle prism on it (so one can look down into the eyepiece, from a standing position). Unlike the Cassini-Huygens images, Saturn appears quite yellow in an Earth-based optical telescope - probably due to atmospheric filtering or some such thing. Jupiter is pure white, with very faint striations sometimes visible, and Mars appears quite red, but very small. I could *clearly* see the 4 major moons of Jupiter - three on one side, and one on the other, all lined up in their orbital plane.

I could not detect any moons of Saturn - probably since Saturn is over a billion kilometers away from my point of observation, I believe. (I am guessing roughly 1.25 billion km, but I havn't looked up any orbital postions in detail).

Saturn takes 29 Earth years to complete one orbit of the sun. Here on Earth, maybe you get two times in a human lifetime, when you can get a good, clear, full-disk view of Saturn, with rings and planet fully visible. :)

Saturn: What it looks like to NASA Cassini-Huygens Probe

Excellent photo from a NASA website, of ISS taken from the now-retired US Space Shuttle, back in 2011. This is well-engineered technology. We should actively use it as a base for orbital parking of fuel for trans-planetary exploration and colonization ships. The idea should be to lift multiple supply ships with fuel, until sufficient quantity is held for round-trip Martian runs. We probably need 10 to 15 runs just to drop enough materiel on the Martian surface to support a first colony. Elon Musk is right. We need to get moving on this project now. There is a whole planet waiting - free for the taking. Note the moon in the background, where a car remains parked, from the last US Lunar mission - Apollo 17, way back in December of 1972 - 45 years ago!

Fantastic Live Image of the SpaceX Dragon Ship, 11 meters from the International Space Station, about to be Captured by the Robotic Canadarm - June 5, 2017. I captured this image using a cellphone camera, right off the Samsung monitor, while watching it real-time. The successful capture was made at 8:52 Central Time, just over coast of Argentina. This was first reused space vehicle to dock with the ISS, since Shuttle Atlantis docked in 2011. The live video coverage was very well done by the NASA feed. This impressive Orbital Ballet shows what is possible when technology allows human initiative to be enhanced and extended.

Dragon Ship Docked with ISS over Coast of Tunisia, June 5th, 2017, after Successful Flight to Station. (Real-time video image capture using Huawei cellphone - by Mark C. Langdon)

Robotic "Canadarm" Reaching Out to Catch the Dragon! (June 5, 2017. Photo frame-captured from NASA video.

Real-time video-capture of Canadarm linked to SpaceX Dragon ship, June 5, 2017.

Earth As Seen from the NASA Juno Probe Before Orbital "Slingshot"

Jupiter Pictures - From the NASA Juno Probe

It is possible to download the image data from the NASA Juno Probe, which as of Sept. 6, 2016, is in orbit around the planet Jupiter.  I pulled down a few of the more dramatic images, and tweaked the gamma and contrast to make the fractal violence of the Jovian atmosphere a bit more evident.  There is also a magnificant flyby picture of Earth (above), taken when the probe did its gravity "slingshot" around Earth.

Polar view of Jovian Atmospheric Turbulence

Research Platform on the ISS, terminator in background.

HDEV Pictures from ISS - International Space Station

The HDEV Experiment - "High Definition Earth Viewing" - gives everyone the ability to monitor video feeds from the ISS.  The images transmitted are interesting, and show the range of planetary environments evident on Earth.  The images of cloud formation provide an interesting example of dynamic fractal geometry, an emergent process that shows how extreme complexity can arise from random systems driven by simple rulesets.

The HDEV feeds are available from a number of sources, and allow real-time external views of Earth, from various camera locations on the ISS.   These pictures provide accurate, unfiltered images of what our small home in the dark void of space actually looks like.  This "high ground" view of our planet is perhaps the primary mission of the ISS.  These images allow us to change our perspective.  This change in viewpoint assists in the transition of the human species from a superstitious and ignorant group of chattering savages, to an intelligent and skeptical space-faring civilization.  We must dump all our religions and foolish superstitions into the dustbin of history, and embrace a science-driven future that takes us all forward.

Coast of West Africa, Western Sahara, with ISS Solar Array

Self-Similar Fractal Clouds in South Atlantic, July 2, 2016

Grota Valles Canal on Mars, Showing Evidence of Water Erosion (NASA Photo)

Linear Cloud Front in South Atlantic from ISS, July 4, 2016

Fractal Star Formation - Cygnus-X Complex as Imaged by Hubble Telescope, 2010. (NASA Photo)

Cloud Formations and Soyuz Modules from ISS, Dec. 29, 2015

West Coast of Africa - January 10, 2017, from ISS HDEV (High Definition Earth Viewing) Experiment.

Apollo 17 Lunar Orbital Spacecraft. This was a damn fine little ship, which flew 45 YEARS AGO, way back in December, of 1972. It was designed using drafting tables and detailed engineering drawings. It remains the best interplanetary exploration vehicle human beings have ever developed.

Eugene Cernan, who died this year on January 16th, 2017, was the last to drive the Lunar Rover, back in December, of 1972. It remains parked on the moon.

Astronauts of the Apollo 17 Lunar Exploration Mission, conducted in December of 1972, explore the Lunar surface, using the Rover. This was a last manned interplanetary space exploration mission undertaken. As of October, 2017, humans have used only robot probes to explore their own planetary backyard.