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The next PAS meeting is Friday September 9, 2016

7:30 pm, Room 5015, Foothill College

"Saturn's Rings - New Discoveries from the Cassini Mission" by Robert French of the SETI Institute

  NASA's Cassini spacecraft, launched in 1997, has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004. During that time, it has taken over 80,000 pictures and millions of spectra of Saturn's rings. This unprecedented amount of information has led to the discovery of many new features, such as a "wobble" in the rings likely caused by a cometary impact in 1983 and a small ringlet that always orients itself towards the Sun. In addition, Cassini has enabled the continuing exploration of previously known features, such as the weird F ring with its kinks and clumps and the sparse E ring produced by the ice geysers of the moon Enceladus. The Saturn equinox in 2009, when the Sun was edge-on to the ring plane, has permitted the discovery of the three-dimensional structure of the rings, including walls of material dragged kilometers off the ring by nearby moonlets. This image-rich talk will introduce the Cassini mission and briefly overview these and other discoveries.

Robert S. French is a research assistant at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, CA. He holds degrees from MIT, Stanford, and Swinburne University and researches the rings and moons of the giant planets using images from Voyager, Cassini, and the Hubble Space Telescope. Most recently, Rob has studied Saturn's amazing F ring, the inner moons of Uranus, and the moons and rings arcs of Neptune. He is co-discoverer of the 14th moon of Neptune and is co-authoring a chapter on the F ring for the book Planetary Ring Systems to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.

Our next speaker will be in October.

 Location: Foothill College room 5015, next to Parking Lot 5
Bring $3 for a parking permit



The Peninsula Astronomical Society is a group of some 200 Bay Area astronomy enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds. Some members are professionally trained in astronomy, others are just starting and have never looked through a telescope before. One thing that we all have in common is an interest in the sky.

The PAS holds meetings on the second Friday of each month at 7:30 pm on the campus of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA (between San Jose and Palo Alto).  The meetings are usually held in Room 5015, next to Parking Lot 5 (see map). Each meeting features a speaker (or speakers) bringing us up to date on different topics in astronomy. The public is welcome to attend these meetings; there is no charge to attend.  Note, however, that there is a $3 charge for parking - visitor parking permits are available from the machines in the parking lots.  Please do not park in spaces marked "Staff" - you will be ticketed!

As part of its commitment to bringing astronomy to the public, the Peninsula Astronomical Society operates the Foothill College Observatory (click here for more information). The Observatory is staffed by members of the society who volunteer to conduct the regularly scheduled public programs.

In addition to operating the Foothill Observatory, the PAS has its own observatory in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. This location has AC power and room for members to set up their own telescopes at our monthly star parties. This site is also the home of the society's 12" telescope, available for member use after a checkout.

For informaton about membership in the PAS, click here.



PAS Logo clothing and other cool items are available at Cafe Press - click on the T-shirt:

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