The last quarter moon shines near the bright star Spica and the ringed planet Saturn on January 16, in the wee hours after midnight and before daybreak. From mid-northern latitudes, this trio of lights shines highest up in the sky shortly before the dawn of day. The last quarter moon falls at the same instant worldwide. The last quarter moon comes on January 16, at 9:08 Universal Time. In United States, that places tomorrow’s last quarter moon at 4:08 a.m. Eastern Time, 3:08 a.m. Central Time, 2:08 a.m. Mountain Time, and 1:08 a.m. Pacific Time. This is the time when the moon reaches the exact last quarter phase. For all of us, worldwide, every last quarter moon rises in the approximate middle of the night and sets in the approximate middle of the day.
Engineers with NASA’s Cassini mission are conducting diagnostic testing on a part of the spacecraft’s radio system after its signal was not detected on Earth during a tracking pass in late December. The spacecraft has been communicating with Earth using a backup part. The issue occurred with the ultra-stable oscillator, which is used for one type of radio science experiment and also as a means of sending data back to Earth. The spacecraft is currently using an auxiliary oscillator, whose frequency stability is adequate for transmitting data from the spacecraft to Earth. Tests later this month will help mission managers decide whether it will be possible to bring the ultra-stable oscillator back into service.
Astrophysicists have for the first time observed a Saturn-like ringed planet orbiting a star like our own.
Scientists have used models to help predict Earth’s weather for years, and now they are using similar simulations to forecast rain on Saturn’s biggest moon Titan. According to scientists the study may help explain features such as rivers, lakes and clouds of methane on Titan, and could predict future changes.
A team of scientists has traveled to remote Laguna Negra in the central Andes of Chile to test technologies that could one day be used to explore the lakes of Titan. The Planetary Lake Lander (PLL) project is led by Principal Investigator Nathalie Cabrol of the NASA Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute, and is funded by the NASA Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) program.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured stunning shots of three of Saturn’s moons. The Cassini probe recently beamed home photos of Titan, Dione and Enceladus, three of Saturn’s six largest moons.
NASA Saturn-studying Cassini probe has delivered a photographic holiday package. Two newly released Cassini images show three of Saturn’s frigid moons hanging in space like gaudy cosmic ornaments, girded by the massive planet’s magnificent rings.
In the night of Monday, December 19, you may observe the moon near the star Spica and the planet Saturn. The three can be only observed only before the dawn on Monday. Look first for the moon in the sky, and then find out two star-like lights in the moon’s vicinity.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft obtained this unprocessed image on December 12, 2011. The camera was pointing toward Saturn’s moon Dione from approximately 48,236 miles (77,682 kilometers) away.