Observing

See the Moon and Saturn get close at dusk on 17 September

16 September 2018 Ade Ashford

Skywatchers in the UK looking to the south-southwest at dusk on Monday, 17 September can see the waxing gibbous Moon just 1¾ degrees to the upper left of Saturn, the pair fitting comfortably in the same field of view of binoculars and small telescopes magnifying 25× or less. This is also a good night for spotting Titan, Saturn’s largest and brightest moon.

Observing

See the Moon join a midnight planetary parade from 21–28 July

19 July 2018 Ade Ashford

If clear skies persist, observers in the UK can view four naked-eye planets between now and the end of the month. Brightest planet Venus is visible low in the west some 45 minutes after sunset, while the waxing Moon is your celestial pointer to Jupiter, Saturn and Mars between 21 and 28 July at midnight.

Observing

See the Moon meet the ringed planet on the night of 6—7 July

5 July 2017 Ade Ashford

Skywatchers in the UK and Western Europe should cast their gaze low in the southern sky late into the evening of Thursday 6 July to see the 12-day-old waxing gibbous Moon in conjunction with ringed planet Saturn. The pair are separated by just 3½ degrees, nicely framed in a typical 10×50 binocular. For telescope users, the night of 6—7 July is also good for spotting Saturn’s bright moons. We show you what to look for and where.

Observing

See the Moon meet the ringed planet on 14 May

8 May 2017 Ade Ashford

In the small UK hours of Sunday 14 May, the rising 17-day-old Moon in the southeast lies just 2.4 degrees to the upper-left of Saturn, meaning that the pair will comfortably fit in the same field of view of a typical 10×50 binocular. The ringed planet is now about a month from opposition, so now’s the time to hone your observing skills.

News

Saturn’s moon Dione harbours a subsurface ocean

4 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A subsurface ocean lies deep within Saturn’s moon Dione, according to new data from the Cassini mission. Two other moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus, are already known to hide global oceans beneath their icy crusts. Researchers believe that Dione’s crust floats on an ocean several tens of kilometres deep located 100 kilometres below the surface.

Picture This

Dione: a moon of contrasts

22 August 2016 Astronomy Now

In this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, Saturn’s moon Dione reveals its past via contrasts. The features visible here are a mixture of tectonics — the bright, linear features — and impact cratering — the round features, which are spread across the entire surface.

News

Close encounters of a tidal kind could lead to cracks on icy moons

26 May 2016 Astronomy Now

A new model developed by University of Rochester researchers could offer an explanation as to how cracks on icy moons, such as Pluto’s Charon, formed. Until now, it was thought that the cracks were the result of geodynamical processes, such as plate tectonics, but computer simulations suggest that a close encounter with another body might have been the cause.

News

Moons of Saturn may be younger than the dinosaurs

25 March 2016 Astronomy Now

New research suggests that some of Saturn’s icy moons, as well as its famous rings, might be modern adornments. Their dramatic birth may have taken place a mere 100 million years ago. This would date the formation of the major moons of Saturn, with the exception of more distant Titan and Iapetus, to the relatively recent Cretaceous Period — the era of the dinosaurs.

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Cassini views Helorus in half-light

22 March 2016 Astronomy Now

In this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft we see a crater duo on Saturn’s 698-mile-wide moon Dione. The upper of the pair, named Italus, is overprinted on a grouping of ancient troughs called Petelia Fossae. The lower crater, Caieta, sits atop a feature named Helorus Fossa. Fossae on Dione are believed to be tectonic features.

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Wisps under the rings

3 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Dione’s beautiful wispy terrain is brightly lit alongside Saturn’s elegant rings in this image from the Cassini probe.