This is a sudden posting, prompted merely by reading that Saturn is in opposition throughout the next few weeks, making it at its brightest to the naked eye.
So it’s a good time to recall the small telescope I owned in my childhood and to retrieve from my shelves a book called Challenge of the Stars (published by Mitchell Beazley in 1972 – although mine was a cheaper edition from Book Club Associates).
The book is by Patrick Moore and illustrated by David A Hardy, whose images deserve some plaudits, I reckon, as I now realise they are the pictures I still have in my mind’s eye when I visualise the planets of our solar system. More about Hardy later…
Those were the days when a great Planetary Grand Tour of the outer solar system was still on the cards, in a decade when the gas giants were in a conveniently close alignment and could be used as gravitational slingshots to help a probe on its way after taking close-up pictures.
Patrick Moore enthused (more…)