The July 2017 Membership Meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will take place Monday, July 10, at 7:30 PM.
Gary Kader, CAA member and Director of the Burrell Observatory of Baldwin Wallace University, will present — SEEING DOUBLE: FINDING AND OBSERVING DOUBLE STARS FOR FUN AND SCIENCE. About half the stars in the night sky are actually multiple stars. Some are visible as two stars in a telescope, those are visual binaries, while others are determined from analyzing their light. Many show contrasting colors, which make them fun to observe. Learn all about double stars in this interesting presentation.
CAA’s monthly meetings take place at the Rocky River Nature Center of the Cleveland Metroparks, 24000 Valley Parkway, North Olmsted. The program begins at 7:30 PM, followed by a social break which is followed, in turn, by a business meeting.
Non-members are welcome to attend the evening’s program!
The monthly meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association will take place Monday night (Feb. 13). Our speaker at 7:30 PM will be NASA research scientist Bryan Palaszewski, who will make a presentation entitled: “NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope.” Non-members are welcome!
Our monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of every month (except December) at 7:30 PM at the Rocky River Nature Center; 24000 Valley Parkway; North Olmsted, Ohio, in the Cleveland Metroparks
Newly released images showcase the incredible closeness with which NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, now in its “Ring-Grazing” orbits phase, is observing Saturn’s dazzling rings of icy debris.
The views are some of the closest-ever images of the outer parts of the main rings, giving scientists an eagerly awaited opportunity to observe features with names like “straw” and “propellers.” Although Cassini saw these features earlier in the mission, the spacecraft’s current, special orbits are now providing opportunities to see them in greater detail. The new images resolve details as small as 0.3 miles (550 meters), which is on the scale of Earth’s tallest buildings.
Cassini is now about halfway through its penultimate mission phase — 20 orbits that dive past the outer edge of the main ring system. The ring-grazing orbits began last November, and will continue until late April, when Cassini begins its grand finale. During the 22 finale orbits, Cassini will repeatedly plunge through the gap between the rings and Saturn. The first finale plunge is scheduled for April 26.
For now, the veteran spacecraft is shooting past the outer edges of the rings every week, gathering some of its best images of the rings and moons. Already Cassini has sent back the closest-ever views of small moons Daphnis and Pandora.
Some of the structures seen in recent Cassini images have not been visible at this level of detail since the spacecraft arrived at Saturn in mid-2004. At that time, fine details like straw and propellers — which are caused by clumping ring particles and small, embedded moonlets, respectively — had never been seen before. (Although propellers were present in Cassini’s arrival images, they were actually discovered in later analysis, the following year.)
Cassini came a bit closer to the rings during its arrival at Saturn, but the quality of those arrival images (examples: 1, 2, 3) was not as high as in the new views. Those precious few observations only looked out on the backlit side of the rings, and the team chose short exposure times to minimize smearing due to Cassini’s fast motion as it vaulted over the ring plane. This resulted in images that were scientifically stunning, but somewhat dark and noisy.
In contrast, the close views Cassini has begun capturing in its ring-grazing orbits (and soon will capture in its Grand Finale phase) are taking in both the backlit and sunlit side of the rings. Instead of just one brief pass lasting a few hours, Cassini is making several dozen passes during these final months.
“As the person who planned those initial orbit-insertion ring images — which remained our most detailed views of the rings for the past 13 years — I am taken aback by how vastly improved are the details in this new collection,” said Cassini Imaging Team Lead Carolyn Porco, of Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “How fitting it is that we should go out with the best views of Saturn’s rings we’ve ever collected.”
Our first CAA meeting of the New Year is scheduled tomorrow (Monday, Jan. 9) at Rocky River Nature Center. Our speaker, at 7:30 PM, will be Jay Reynolds, CSU astronomy instructor, who will give a presentation about NASA’s missions to Pluto and Ceres. Non-members are welcome to attend!