March 28, 2017

Review: A Professor, a President, & a Meteor by Cathryn J. Prince.

Out from Prometheus Books!

The road to scientific discovery can be a surreptitious one. Although America became a nation in 1776, it was sometime before American science would be taken seriously on the world stage. All of that was to change on the morning of December 14th, 1807.This week, we take a look at A Professor, a President, & a Meteor; the Birth of American Science by Cathryn J. Prince out from Prometheus Books. [Read more...]

AstroChallenge: Beta Monocerotis: A True Triple.

Beta Monocerotis: A finder chart. (Created by Author in StarryNight & Paint).

This week, we’d like to turn your attention towards an interesting object in an often overlooked constellation; Monceros. Sandwiched between the flashier constellations of Orion and Canis Major, this rambling constellation sports an interesting multiple star that should be part of your spring repertoire; Beta Monocerotis. [Read more...]

14.03.10-Record Lightning Storm Spotted by Cassini.

The shadow of Titan as viewed by Cassini. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute).

The shadow of Titan as viewed by Cassini. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute).


Saturn is turning out to be a very electrified place. Last year, NASA’s Cassini orbiter spied a massive storm that broke the solar system record; beginning in January 2009, this storm raged on for 7 ½ months, the longest recorded. This marks the ninth storm on Saturn thus recorded; these behemoths tend to be around 1,900 miles in size. It’s been known since the initial Voyager flybys of the ringed world in the 1970’s that an ionization differential of x100 exists in favor of the daytime side of Saturn over its night side, but routine observations by Cassini are revealing what a turbulent world Saturn really is. Cassini utilizes its antennae aboard its Radio and Plasma Wave Science instrument to analyze the powerful radio emissions.   Tantalizingly, the storms almost always originate in a region known as “Storm Alley” at latitude 35° south. The reason for this isn’t entirely clear. Scientists also took advantage of a passage of Cassini behind Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, to confirm the source of these radio emissions. Surely enough, when Titan occulted the body of Saturn, the emissions disappeared, only to return when Saturn came back into view. This was yet another proof that Saturn is still an active and mysterious place.