Hurricane on Saturn: The Rose

The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).  

This image is among the first sunlit views of Saturn’s north pole captured by Cassini’s imaging cameras. When the spacecraft arrived in the Saturnian system in 2004, it was northern winter and the north pole was in darkness. Saturn’s north pole was last imaged under sunlight by NASA’s Voyager 2 in 1981; however, the observation geometry did not allow for detailed views of the poles. Consequently, it is not known how long this newly discovered north-polar hurricane has been active.  

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

1 year ago 77 notes

Challenge of the Day: Make a Cereal Box Spectroscope 

Astronomers analyze the spectrum of light coming from different stars to determine what they are made of. Create your own spectrometer to see the difference in the spectrums of light around you. A simple spectrometer can be built from a CD and a cereal box. Cut a slit on one side of the box and place the CD on the other side with about a 60 degree angle and look down into the opening of the box. The slit should not be too wide, otherwise the spectrum lines will be blurred. Happy making!

1 year ago 40 notes

Supernova SN 1006

SN 1006 was a supernova, widely seen on Earth beginning in the year 1006; Earth was about 7,200 light years away from the supernova. It was the brightest apparent magnitude stellar event in recorded history, reaching an estimated −7.5 visual magnitude. First appearing in the constellation of Lupus between April 30 and May 1 of that year, this “guest star” was described by observers in China, Egypt, Iraq, Japan, Switzerland, and North America.

1 year ago 40 notes

Astronomer is now a Skill.

Astronomers investigate everything between Earth and the farthest reaches of the Universe. If instruments can collect it, Astronomers will analyze it. While professionals use expensive cutting-edge technology, this is still a field where amateurs with simple tools discover new things all the time.

Thanks to Meagan Moore for collaborating on this Skill!