Smile and say cheese.

The Cassini spacecraft, now orbiting Saturn, will take a cue from the voyager spacecraft and take a picture of the Earth on July 19.

Like the now famous “Pale Blue Dot” image above, the Earth will appear as a small, pale blue dot between the rings of Saturn.

The image will be taken at a distance of 898 million ([1.44 billion kilometers) away, so it is unlikely that your smile from the back row will be seen.

The Pale Blue Dot image taken by voyager 1 was much farther away at a mere 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from Earth using the Voyager imaging science subsystem’s narrow-angle camera with a 1500 mm focal length.  A camera that is not a good as the cameras aboard Cassini, so hopefully it will be an even more exciting image.

If you believe in the butterfly effect, by joining NASA’s call for everyone to”… join us in waving at Saturn from Earth, so we can commemorate this special opportunity.”  You may inadvertently cause a galactic calamity, but I think it is worth the risk.

So everyone start waving wildly starting at 2:27 p.m. PDT (5:27 p.m. EDT or 21:27 UTC) for about 15 minutes.  You can explain to the people staring at you strangely that you are waving at Saturn for a photo-op.  That won’t make you sound crazy at all.  Trust me.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Its raining … rain.

It raining on Saturn.  Since scientists first saw three dark bands on Saturn during the 1980’s flyby of Voyager, there was a theory that the bands were caused by rain.

The bands were not seen again until April 2011, when new observations of Saturn in the near-infrared wavelengths using the W.M Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, in Hawaii.

The rain’s effect occurs in Saturn’s ionosphere, where charged particles are produced.  The “rain” of charged water particles falls into Saturn’s atmosphere creating the dark bands.  It turns out that the rings of Saturn, some 36,000 miles overhead, are to blame for the rain.  Because the rings block solar radiation, the water particles become charged and fall back to Saturn.

Well, at least it isn’t raining men…hallelujah.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman