Observing

Seeing double in the summer sky

24 June 2017 Ade Ashford

With astronomical twilight lasting all night around the Northern Hemisphere summer solstice for stargazers in the UK, what does the deep-sky observer do when the sky never gets truly dark? Fortunately, there are many beautiful double stars to seek out while most nebulae are off limits.

Picture This

Titan’s north pole in summertime

16 June 2017 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured this view of bright methane clouds drifting in the summer skies of Saturn’s moon Titan, along with dark hydrocarbon lakes and seas clustered around the north pole.

Observing

See Saturn at its best after a lunar rendezvous on 9—10 June

5 June 2017 Ade Ashford

Skywatchers in the UK looking to the south-southeast shortly before midnight on Friday 9 June can see the rising full Moon just 2½ degrees above Saturn, the pair fitting comfortably in the same field of view of binoculars and telescopes magnifying less than 20×. Saturn is closest to the Earth for this year on 15 June, so here is our quick observing guide to the ringed planet at its best.

News

Cassini survives closest brush with Saturn’s inner ring

30 May 2017 Stephen Clark

Barreling through space near the inner edge of Saturn’s wispy D ring, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shielded itself from bits of ice and dust Sunday as the probe made its most dangerous plunge close to the planet, collecting spectacular edge-on views of Saturn’s rings with an on-board camera.

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

NASA probe finds Saturn ring gap emptier than predicted

3 May 2017 Stephen Clark

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sped through a gap between Saturn and its rings for the second time Tuesday after data from the probe’s first perilous passage through the unexplored region last week found it to contain fewer potentially hazardous dust particles than expected.

News

Cassini sails by Saturn’s moon Titan for last time

24 April 2017 Stephen Clark

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sped by the moon Titan on Saturday, using the hazy world’s gravity to slingshot the probe on a trailblazing trajectory to explore the region between Saturn’s hydrogen-helium atmosphere and the planet’s famous rings for the first time.