Winter Night Sky Planets art manip cg digital landscapes artic winter ocean sea Night Planets Sky Winter

Winter Night Sky Planets art manip cg digital landscapes artic winter ocean sea Night Planets Sky Winter
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Winter Night Sky Planets

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Cassini's successful mission of exploration to the Saturn system is over, but planetary scientists are left with a cornucopia filled with important new information that Cassini/Huygens sent back to Earth before its mission ended. A collaborative NASA/European Space Agency/Italian Space Agency mission, the robotic spacecraft was made up of two components. The first was the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Huygens Probe, that had been named in honor of the Dutch mathematician and astronomer Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), who discovered Titan. The Huygens Probe also closely observed Saturn's lovely system of gossamer rings. The second component, the NASA-designed Cassini Orbiter, was named after the Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Dominico Cassini (1625-1712), who discovered four of Saturn's other intriguing, numerous, and icy moons.



"The rectangular pattern of gravity anomalies was completely unexpected. Using the gradients in the gravity data to reveal the rectangular pattern of anomalies, we can now clearly and completely see structures that were only hinted at by surface observations," Dr. Jeffrey Andrews-Hanna explained in the October 1, 2014 NASA Press Release. Dr. Andrews-Hanna, a GRAIL co-investigator at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, is lead author of the paper.



The team of astronomers used the same HST technique to observe the little moon as they did for discovering the small moons of Pluto in 2006, 2011, and 2012. Several earlier hunts around Makemake had not succeeded in spotting it. "Our preliminary estimates show that the moon's orbit seems to be edge on, and that means that often when you look at the system you are going to miss the moon because it gets lost in the bright glare of Makemake," commented Dr. Alex Parker in an April 28, 2016 Hubble Press Release. Dr. Parker, who led the image analysis for the observations, is of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

A Moon For Makemake. The observations of April 2015, that unveiled Makemake's tiny moon, were made with HST's Wide Field Camera 3. HST's ability to observe faint objects close to bright ones, along with its sharp resolution, enabled the astronomers to spot the moon that was being masked by Makemake's glare. The announcement of the dim little moon's existence was made on April 26, 2016 in a Minor Planet Electronic Circular.



Determining the shape of the moon's orbit will help resolve the question of its mysterious origin. A tight circular orbit would indicate that MK 2 is likely the result of a collision between Makemake and another KBO. Conversely, if the moon is in a wide, elongated orbit, it is more likely to be a captured object from the Kuiper Belt. In either case, the event would have probably occurred several billion years ago, in our primeval Solar System.



What is a New Moon? The moon goes through different phases, in fact there are eight different phases all told with the new moon being the first phase (No, there is no 'old' moon phase). When the sun and the moon have an equal ecliptic longitude it appears that the moon just 'disappears'. This is because during the new moon phase the moon is on the same side of the Earth as the Sun, causing the dark side of the moon to face our planet. More accurately, during the new moon phase it's hidden behind the sun from sunrise to sunset giving us the impression that it has disappeared.

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