Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturn on edge

Usually, I can judge a night of good seeing if I can easily make out the Cassini Division in Saturn's ring. Even better if I can get a clear shot of it. For the next few months, we'll be seeing the rings nearly edge-on. So now the standard of a good stable night might be if we can even see the rings at all. The true ring crossing won't be until September, but it will be on the other side of the sun at that time and we'll miss it.
The rings are 200,000 km across, but only a few meters think. Thinner than paper, so you'd better be careful, they could leave a nasty cut!
The next ring plane crossing will be in March of 2025. Get out and check it out, again if you live in Seattle, forget it - unless we get lucky. Grrrr....

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