Huestis: Stunning Saturn Shares Summer Sky

Saturday, July 14, 2018

 

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Saturn

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been touting the prime-time return of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. Last month I provided an observer’s guide to Jupiter. Bright Jupiter continues to be easily observable during July, starting out the month about 35 degrees above the southern horizon. You’ll still have a couple of months to explore Jupiter’s striped bands and zones, the Great Red Spot, and the procession of his Galilean moons.

However, perhaps everyone’s favorite planet will soon steal the spotlight from its neighbor. I’m talking about Saturn and his exquisite system of rings. When word gets out that Saturn will be among the visual treats offered by telescopes at the local observatories, one can expect long lines of stargazers wishing to observe this beautiful planetary system. As astronomer Garrett P. Serviss wrote in his 1901 book, Pleasures of the Telescope, “When Saturn is in view the owner of a telescope may become a recruiting officer for astronomy by simply inviting his friends to gaze at the wonderful planet. One returns to it again and again with unflagging interest, and the beauty of the spectacle quite matches its singularity.”

Amateur astronomers and casual stargazers who are fortunate to own telescopes have been following Saturn for months. They were able to observe this beautiful ringed-world during pre-midnight hours. Their desire to explore the heavens was not hindered by the early closings of the public night observing sessions held during late winter into early spring.

However, good things come to those who wait. On June 27 Saturn was at opposition (opposite the Sun in the sky). When the Sunset that evening Saturn rose. That event also signaled Saturn’s closest approach to the Earth for 2018 (841,140,152 miles.) Therefore your exploration of Saturn can begin immediately and a telescope will reveal a slightly larger image of the planet than your sleep deprived associates experienced.

Saturn can be found in the constellation of Sagittarius, just above the “teapot” asterism and nestled among the stars of the gauzy (depending upon the amount of light pollution from your observing location) Milky Way. By 10:00 p.m on July 1, Saturn will be about 20 degrees above the southeast horizon and will be the brightest object in this region of the sky. It will be tempting to begin observing Saturn as soon as you can locate it. However, you may wish to wait another hour or so for Saturn to climb higher into the sky to minimize the effects of atmospheric turbulence on image detail.

Each night Saturn will rise higher into the sky as it moves towards the west. By the 20th of the month it will be only about 25 degrees above the southern horizon at 11:00 p.m. This minimal degree in altitude change is because the ecliptic (path of the Sun through our sky and therefore the plane of the solar system) traverses a low arc across our summertime night sky. This scenario is true for Jupiter and Mars this summer as well, as the planets also trace out the ecliptic. Much better views will be obtainable from more southerly latitudes.

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When you first observe Saturn through a telescope its rings will initially take your breath away. They are really an impressive sight to behold. The rings are composed of irregularly shaped dirty snowballs, ranging in size from grains of dust to the size of pebbles. There are also some “boulders” as large as several feet across. They all orbit Saturn along the planet’s equatorial plane. It is really amazing that Saturn’s rings are even visible at all, considering the planet’s great distance from the Earth and the fact that the main rings are only about 32 feet thick, whereas other portions of the ring system can be up to about two-thirds of a mile thick.

Furthermore, the ring system is currently tilted 26 degrees toward the Earth providing us with a view of the north face of the ring plane. With the rings so “wide open,” this configuration allows much detail to be seen. Look for gaps within the ring system. You shouldn't have any difficulty seeing the separation between the primary “A” (outer) and “B” (inner) rings, called the Cassini Division. This gap is only 2,175 miles wide. In comparison, the width of the “A” ring is 9,321 miles and the “B” ring is around 16,032 miles across. Saturn’s rings are slowly de-orbiting and will eventually all “rain” down onto his cloud tops in 50 to 100 million years or so and cease to exist. So you’ve got plenty of time to enjoy the view.

Though Saturn is a gas giant a little smaller than Jupiter, it does not exhibit the prominent bands and zones in its cloud tops as its larger cousin does. Not much detail can be observed at all on Saturn’s disk. In fact, if it weren’t for Saturn’s ring system, this planet would be quite a boring destination for most amateur astronomers and the public alike.

In addition, both before and after opposition as our viewing angle changes, a keen-eyed observer can look for the shadow of the rings upon Saturn’s cloud tops as well as the shadow of Saturn onto his rings. Also, with the rings so wide open they currently block our view of the Saturn’s south polar region.

And finally, Saturn is accompanied by 62 confirmed moons. One can detect up to eight of its brightest moons in a dark moonless sky under ideal seeing conditions with the telescopes available locally and follow their orbital motions around Saturn. In order of size and brightness they are Titan, Rhea, Iapetus, Dione, Tethys, Enceladus, Mimas and Hyperion

While a small two-inch telescope will reveal the beauty of Saturn, search out larger instruments available throughout Rhode Island to explore this exquisite ringed world in splendid detail. Seagrave Memorial Observatory in North Scituate is open every clear Saturday night for observing. Ladd Observatory in Providence is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, July 10, and every clear Tuesday thereafter. The Margaret M. Jacoby Observatory at the CCRI Knight Campus in Warwick is open every clear Thursday night. Also, consider visiting Frosty Drew Observatory in Charlestown on every clear Friday night. Please visit the respective websites for details. These observing sessions are free and open to the public.

Join the volunteers at these facilities as they share their love for the beauty of our solar system. August’s column will prepare you for the Earth’s upcoming close encounter with Mars (approximately 35,800,000 miles away) on July 31. Mars won’t be closer until September 11, 2035.

As always, keep your eyes to the skies.   

 

Related Slideshow: Some of the Most Interesting GoLocal LIVE Interviews—The First 1,000

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Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny, former Prime Minister - the Taoiseach - of Ireland, joined GoLocal LIVE to discuss the growing trade opportunities sparked by the new direct air travel between Rhode Island's T.F. Green via Norwegian Air.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW HERE

Kenny has been instrumental with his support for the Ireland West International Trade Center in Rhode Island and the RI Trade Center in Mayo.

At the time of the interview, a Rhode Island trade mission was visiting Ireland led in part by Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, who also appeared on LIVE.

Kenny served as Prime Minister from 2011 until earlier 2017.

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Amanda Clayton, Actress

Johnston native Amanda Clayton was almost ready to give up on her acting dreams when she got the call to travel to Atlanta to meet Tyler Perry and test-read with other actors for the then-new show “If Loving You Is Wrong," an opportunity that has been life and career changing for Clayton. 

Having moved to New York at 19, five days before 9/11, she studied on-camera acting at New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue film and TV opportunities in Hollywood.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE 

She appeared in Disney’s “John Carter," multiple TV appearances like NCIS: New Orleans, Major Crimes, and The Mentalist, and as Vinny Pazienza’s sister in “Bleed for This” filmed and based right here in Rhode Island.

Clayton just finished a Lifetime Movie “Mommy’s Little Angel”, coming out next year, and finished a role behind-the-scenes as a producer for “Dirty Dead Con Men.”

 “If Loving You Is Wrong” airs Tuesday nights on OWN.

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Billy Gilman, Grammy Nominee

When your career begins at age 11 as the youngest artist to reach #1 on the Billboard charts and continues on through adulthood, it’s almost difficult to believe one could still have professional firsts, but RI native and “The Voice” Alum, Billy Gilman, did just that with his first ever arena concert at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW HERE

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Johanne Killeen, Al Forno

Johanne Killeen of Al Forno shared both the story on GoLocal LIVE's "The Taste," of how grilled pizza began -- as well as the announcement on her new cookbook highlighting pizza.

She told the story of how one of America's greatest restaurants was started and where it is going in the future. 

WATCH THE INTERVIEW HERE

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South African Penguins

Mystic Aquarium’s Penguin Trainers Eric Fox and Josh Davis visited GoLocal LIVE with Blue-Purple and Blue-Red penguins, talking about how you can help the Endangered South African species.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW HERE

They also discussed trips to South Africa, what it’s like working with penguins, and what’s on the penguin’s lunch menu.

Mystic Aquarium’s mission is to inspire people to care for and protect the ocean planet through education, conservation and research. To help accomplish that mission, Mystic Aquarium offers educational opportunities and fundraising events to continue their conservation work and teach the public about the ocean’s creatures.

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Jai Rodriguez, Actor

“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” alum, Jai Rodriguez, joined GoLocal LIVE to talk about his new show “Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man’’ currently running in Vegas until January of 2018. 

Rodriguez co-stars in the audience-participation heavy live show with reality TV personality, Kendra Wilkinson, and says the subject matter of the show is perfect for the crowd in Vegas. 

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Rodriguez will also be appearing on the new CBS drama “Wisdom of the Crowd” and makes a cameo as Margaret Cho’s Husband in “Sharknato 5.”

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Governor Lincoln Chafee

Lincoln Chafee, former Mayor, U.S. Senator and Governor, took Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s administration to task for promoting economic growth by funneling tax dollars to some of America’s richest corporations, in one of a number of appearances on GoLocal LIVE.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Appearing on GoLocal LIVE with GoLocal News Editor Kate Nagle, Chafee said the Raimondo’s transfer of taxpayers dollars to billion dollar companies such as General Electric and Johnson & Johnson was flawed.

“I have never liked corporate welfare. It's unfair to existing businesses…some out of state business comes in and you give them the candy store. I just don’t like it," said Chafee.

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Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero

As only the 10th person to serve as the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero said it’s been amazing to learn responsibilities of the position and get to know the staff at the National Archives. He appeared on GoLocal LIVE with Molly O'Brien at GoLocal's downtown Providence studio.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

“The most exciting thing is getting to know the records and getting to know the richness of the documentation that tells our country’s history, starting with the oaths of allegiance signed at Valley Forge by George Washington and the troops, all the way up to the tweets that are being created as I am speaking, in the White House,” Ferriero said.

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Governor Gina Raimondo

Governor Gina Raimondo joined GoLocal News Editor Kate Nagle on LIVE where she discussed the UHIP technology failure, economic development, the status of 38 Studios, and how she works to build a lasting legacy for Rhode Island. 

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

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Walt Mossberg, Top Tech Journalist

Who are five of the most influential people to change personal technology? The most important journalist gave his insight on personal tech to date and outlined where we are going.

Super tech journalist and Rhode Island native Walt Mossberg appeared on GoLocal LIVE with GoLocal's News Editor Kate Nagle.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

"Well, it was a combination of really important people - and really important technology," said Mossberg. "It took too long for the computer industry to get the memo that these things had to be usable without reading manuals."

Mossberg, who served as the principal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal from 1991 to 2013, founded AllThingsD, Recode, and the D and Code Conferences, and from 2015 to 2017, was Executive Editor of The Verge.

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Gretchen Morgenson, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist

Gretchen Morgenson, a top financial writer for the New York Times [now the Wall Street Journal], joined GoLocal LIVE just hours after her newspaper published her investigative piece that unveiled that claims that financial giant TIAA was involved in improper financial practices took on new momentum.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Rhode Island’s Treasurer Seth Magaziner has nearly $700 million invested with TIAA.

Morgenson was first to report that, “New York’s attorney general has subpoenaed TIAA, the giant insurance company, and investment firm, seeking documents and information relating to its sales practices…”

In October, she wrote a sweeping investigative piece that raised questions about TIAA’s selling strategies. “The subpoena to TIAA, which handles retirement accounts for over four million workers at 15,000 nonprofit institutions across the country, followed an article last month in The New York Times that raised questions about the firm’s selling techniques,” wrote Morgenson.

On GoLocal LIVE, Morgenson told News Editor Kate Nagle in a Skype interview, “I think clients in all states should be worried -- Mr. [Seth] Magaziner should do a little more investigation into this to assure himself and the people in Rhode Island in these plans - that what TIAA is [telling them] is correct.”

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Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Ron Powers said his recent book, “No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America” is one he promised himself he would never write.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

The book is based on the true story of his two sons' struggles with mental illness. Both were diagnosed with Schizophrenia as young men.

While deeply personal, Powers gave insight on the battles his sons’ fought and details into their family life. He also looked at the history of mental illness, including incarceration, medication and more. 

"I was determined to give the mentally ill, invisible to much of society and often denied the very basic acknowledgment of their own humanity, a voice,” Powers said.

Powers is the author or co-author of 14 previous books, including New York Times bestselling “Flags of our Fathers” and “True Compass."

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Lidia Bastianich, Chef and Author

Lidia Bastianich, Emmy award-winning chef, restaurateur, and author joined GoLocal LIVE's The Taste with Rick Simone.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Bastianich explained how she was inspired by family traditions and how she first got into the culinary world. She has since carried on her passion and it now has involved to include her whole family in all her endeavors.

Big news -- Bastianich announced that Eataly could be opening in Toronto, Canada in 2018.

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Piff the Magic Dragon

Magician and comedian Piff the Magic Dragon appeared on LIVE before he performed five shows at the Comedy Connection in East Providence over Labor Day Weekend. 

“New show, all new jokes, all new tricks, same dog,” Piff said. “Mr. Piffles will be doing a lot of mind reading. He’s got his whole new act with The Dog Who Knows and he’ll be attempting to see all and know all. Ask him anything and he’ll tell you.” 

Known for his dry sense of humor and rescue K-9 sidekick Mr. Piffles, Piff gained worldwide attention after his success on season 10 of America’s Got Talent. 

Although Piff didn’t win that season, he’s made guest appearances on America’s Got Talent, racked up 50 million YouTube views, and recently extended his show at the Flamingo in Las Vegas until the end of 2018.

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Jean Lesieur, French Journalist

Leading French journalist Jean Lesieur has appeared twice on GoLocal LIVE. 

He is a novelist and a co-founder of France 24, the French version of CNN, warned of the rise of Trump and nationalism.

WATCH ONE OF HIS INTERVIEWS HERE

“He is the symptom and agent of the emerging nationalism. And, nationalism should not be considered patriotism. Patriotism is the love of your own. Nationalism is the hatred of others,” said Lesieur at the Hope Club.

In a sweeping discussion with GoLocal, he spoke about Europe in the Brexit, the Trump relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the wild French election campaign.

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Patrick Kennedy, Former Congressman

Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy spoke with GoLocal LIVE about efforts in Rhode Island in 2017 to legalize marijuana - and what he said is the country’s crisis of addiction, and why he is opposed to marijuana legalization. 

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

“We’re going through an epidemic of addiction and depression…and we’re in the midst of the rollback the biggest expansion of healthcare coverage that benefits people with mental illness [and] addiction, and this was the first time the ever got coverage,” Kennedy told GoLocal’s Kate Nagle on Wednesday.

“We ought to think do we want to throw gasoline on the fire,” said Kennedy, of legalizing marijuana in Rhode Island. “We know what’s happened with other addictive substances where’s basically there’s no perception of ‘risk’ — alcohol is ubiquitous; tobacco, until the settlements, there was no appetite for addressing [the impact of that].”

“Going down this road of adding a new intoxicant is not a good thing,” said Kennedy.

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Beverly Daniel Tatum, Former Spelman College President

Former president of Spelman College, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., is one of the nation’s leading experts on race, and the psychology of race.

Tatum recently released a fully revised and updated edition of her bestselling book “Why Are the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race.” 

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

In an interview with LIVE, Tatum said it’s important to have conversations about race and listen for opportunities to have natural discussions.

“We can’t solve a problem if we can’t talk about it,” the Brock International Prize in Education winner said. 

To make a change, she said, we all have a role to play and each of us has an opportunity.

“We all have a sphere of influence. Everybody influences someone, and we should not be afraid to use that influence to bring about the changes we hope to see,” she said.

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Mark Baillie, Top British Security Expert

Terrorism and international relations expert Mark Baillie of King's College in London's War Studies Department spoke with GoLocal's Kate Nagle regarding the post-Manchester landscape in England - and the world. 

"The young guy...did it in his mother's basement. Any lone actor can make a powerful bomb," said Baillie following the terrorism incident. "We're in the midst of a general election where politicians talk about there being no political or cultural backlash."

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

"And estimated 300 people are 'ready to go' -  400 who have been fighting with Isis in Syria  -- and in a group of about 20,000 supporters," noted Baillie of the UK landscape, calling Manchester and acts like it the "terrorism of the mundane" -- and much more frightening than "spectacular" acts of terrorism. 

Baillie, who runs seminars on a wide range of security matters at King's and at the UK Joint Staff College, has lived or worked in more than 14 countries in the fields of news, security, finance, economics, business and politics and appears widely in international news media on terrorism and international security.

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Mark Geragos, Celebrity Attorney

Geragos is one of Hollywood's biggest celebrity lawyers having represented rapper Chris Brown and Michael Jackson over the years. When asked about his relationship with the often legal troubled Brown, Geragos said that the rapper is "like a son and an annuity" to him.

In reference to a lawsuit that he is representing Alex and Ani over, Geragos said, "For lack of a better word, we've got a couple of knuckleheads, [and] it's not at the forefront of anything we're worried about."

"Unfortunately when you become successful people want to take an elevator to the penthouse and that won't happen here, trust me," said Geragos.

Geragos explained how he met Alex and Ani CEO Carolyn Rafaelian - and spoke to how the "company culture" brought him in.

"I was at a charity event at Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard -- she was doing a fundraiser for an Armenian orphanage," said Geragos. "They have a unique blend of doing humanitarian work...Carolyn was the hit in New York this week."

Model, entrepreneur and activist Gisele Bündchen, co-anchor of Good Morning America Robin Roberts; and Rafaelian were among the women recognized Tuesday in New York City by the David Lynch Foundation (DLF), a global charitable organization that addresses the epidemic of trauma and toxic stress amongst at-risk populations.

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Amazing Regulars

Each week, GoLocal LIVE features an amazing group of experts in Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

Robert Whitcomb, former Editorial Page Editor of the Providence Journal, now GoLocalProv columnist

Gary Sasse, "The Money Man," an expert on state and federal fiscal policy

Jennifer Lawless, Director of the Women & Politics Institute and Professor of Political Science at American University

Ray Rickman, Former State Representative, Deputy Secretary of State, and Civil Rights Leader

Kristin MacRae, Organizing Expert

Saul Kaplan, Business Innovation Expert

Robin Garceau, Interior Design Expert  

 
 

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