Night Vision: Saturn

Thomas

A bright globe surrounded by glittering rings deep in the reaches of the solar system. Inspiring, beautiful, and mysterious, is it any wonder that Saturn is referred to as the “Jewel of the Heavens”? Adorned with these rings that can be seen from Earth through even a small telescope, and hosting dozens of miniature worlds of its own, this wanderer of the skies will be the topic of discussion during this week’s Night Vision.

Seen since the time when mankind set its gaze to the stars, Saturn has held a variety of stations from wanderer to deity. But it wasn’t until Galileo first turned the telescope to this enigmatic point of light that we began to answer questions and field new curiosities about this giant mystery in the sky. In 1979 Pioneer 11 provided our first detailed view of the Gas Giant, and later, in the 1980s, we received additional information and images via Voyagers 1 and 2.

Saturn Equinox capture by Cassini space probe in 2009

Cassini spacecraft’s view of Saturn in 2009. from: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/saturn/indepth

The latest Saturn probe, Cassini, has spent more than 11 years exploring and reporting on Saturn and is sending back more data and images than we could have hoped or imagined. Launched in October 1997 with an intended operational period through September 2017, Cassini has provided significant insights into Saturn’s structure, the composition and origin of its rings, and a wealth of knowledge regarding its system of more than 50 moons.

What we’ve learned thus far has laid the foundation for future missions to this distant frontier. Join us for this exciting edition of Night Vision as we discuss the history, present, and future of Saturn.

Night Vision: Saturn is hosted on Thursday evening, January 7th, and Saturday evening, January 9th, in the Hansen Dome Theatre at 6:45pm. Tickets available online or at the Clark Planetarium ticket desk. Free for members and $2 for everyone else.

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