A marvelous night for a (Saturn) moon dance

The entire universe in blog form
Feb. 10 2010 8:00 AM

A marvelous night for a (Saturn) moon dance

We live on a wonderful planet with a beautiful Moon. But I sometimes think we got gypped.

The view from Saturn can be sooooo much cooler:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

cassini_encel_rhea_strip

That's the moon Enceladus passing in front of (what we science-types call "transiting") Rhea. Enceladus is about 500 km (300 miles) across and Rhea is 3 times bigger. Rhea was about 2.7 million km (1.7 million miles) from Cassini when these shots were taken, and Enceladus a bit closer at 2.3 million km (1.4 million miles). Of course, by a bit closer I mean the same distance our Moon is from the Earth, so there was plenty of room for this mutual event.

Here's a zoom of the middle frame:

cassini_enceladus_rhea

Awesome. Note that these images were taken about one minute apart, so things were hopping. It's amazing to me that not only can we put a probe around Saturn and get images of its moons, but our math and physics are so freaking accurate we can say, "Hey, you know what? On this date at this time if we turn Cassini that way we'll see a moon over 2 million kilometers away pass in front of another one nearly 3 million kilometers away."

Every morning, I have a 50/50 chance of finding my keys. That kinda puts things in perspective.


TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.