Label: Saturn

May 20, 2013

The Cassini spacecraft continues to send back simply extraordinary photographs of Saturn. The latest is an image of an enormous hurricane currently raging at Saturn’s north pole. The eye - just the eye - of this hurricane stretches 1,250 miles (2,000 km) across. That is the length of the entire West Coast of the United States - from the southern tip of California all the way up to the Canadian border.  

Scientists don’t know how long this hurricane has been in existence, because when Cassini arrived the north pole was covered in winter darkness (a year on Saturn lasts 29 Earth years). But now that it is light, we can see this huge storm which seems very similar to, though much bigger than what we call a hurricane here on Earth.

This photograph is false-color, by the way. That means that color has been added to the original image to help us see the details.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Solar System, Hurricanes, Saturn   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 5, 2013

Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is a magnificent shot taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which has been sending us photographs from Saturn for almost nine years. This one is particularly beautiful because we can see Venus - a tiny, bright speck - shining in the distance.

We often see Venus in the early morning here on Earth, shining like a bright "morning star." This is an entirely different view, since Venus is seen here from a distance of 884 million miles (1.42 billion kilometers) away from Saturn.  If you want to try to imagine how far 884 million miles is, it is TEN TIMES the distance our planet Earth is from the sun. That’s quite a camera on the Cassini probe!

The early Romans named the dazzling white planet Venus, after their goddess of love and beauty. Gazing at this lovely image, you can certainly see why.

Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI

You can read more about both VENUS and SATURN in my newly updated eBooks, which are part of the StarWalk Kids streaming collection of digital books for schools and libraries. These "Read and Listen" books have top quality, professionally-recorded narration and come with "Teaching Links" to support Common Core use in the classroom. Educators: Click here to sign up for a free, 30-day trial for your school.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, eBooks, Cool Photo, Solar System, Exploration, Saturn, NASA, Venus   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 8, 2013

The Cassini orbiter - an unmanned space probe - sent back this magnificent image of Saturn last month. The reason this photograph is so spectacular is that the orbiter is shooting from the "dark side" of Saturn, so the planet is glowing with the sun’s light behind it.

Look closely at the bottom left-hand corner of the photograph - do you see anything there? Those two little spots are Enceladus and Tethys, two of Saturn’s moons.

Here’s what Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini imaging team at the Colorado-based Space Science Institute, said about this image:"Of all the many glorious images we have received from Saturn, none are more strikingly unusual than those we have taken from Saturn’s shadow. They unveil a rare splendor seldom seen anywhere else in our solar system."

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: space, Cool Photo, Solar System, Saturn   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 12, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday, where every week we give you a chance to post your writing here on the Seymour Science blog. Today we thought we’d have some fun, and let you do a piece of creative writing about space. It’s "Science Fiction" Writing Wednesday!


The Topic: Saturn and its rings. Saturn is one of the "gas giant" planets in our solar system. Often, when I try to describe the size of objects in the solar system, I find that I need to use comparisons. The numbers are just so huge that no one can imagine what they mean. For example, I can tell you that Saturn’s circumference (which you would measure by wrapping a giant tape measure around its equator) is 235,298 miles or 378,675 kilometers. But who can really imagine how large 235, 298 miles is? I can’t.

A better way to think about this is to use a comparison. To give you an idea of how big Saturn is, we can compare it to Earth. Saturn’s circumference is 9.4 times larger than Earth’s circumference. We can all understand that that is BIG.

Now, for the science fiction part. I found a great image this week (thanks to the USA Science and Engineering Festival for sharing!). This picture is also designed to help us understand how huge Saturn is, by imagining how long it would take to drive all the way around one of the rings. Of course, no one could never ever really do that. But doesn’t knowing that it would take 258 full days if you were driving 75 miles per hour the whole time help you to understand just how huge Saturn is? 


Your assignment: Imagine that you are in a that spaceship/ truck, driving on Saturn’s rings at 75 mph. Write a paragraph or two describing what that journey would be like. What are Saturn’s rings really like? Are they solid? What are conditions in space? Tell about the food and water you would need. Would you be lonely? Use what you know about Saturn and about space to imagine what you would encounter. Use lots of descriptive details to make you imaginary journey come alive for your reader.

When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.


Photos: NASA, Earth Sky Photos

Note to Eucators: Today’s Writing Wednesday excercize is designed to support CSSS Writing Standard #3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, space, Solar System, planets, Saturn   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 15, 2012


Saturn has many moons - 53 that have been discovered and named, nine more "provisional moons" which have been detected but only assigned a number until more is known about them. 

Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is of two of Saturn’s moons. The small one is one of Enceladus, ice-covered and just 300 miles (483 kilometers) wide, and covered by ice. It is dwarfed by one of the big Saturnian moons, the 3,200 mile (5,150 kilometer) wide Titan. The streak across the middle of the photograph is one of the planet’s giant rings.

Cool photo, don’t you think? It was taken by the Cassini orbiter, an unmanned spacecraft which continues to help us learn more about this gas giant.


Photo: NASA/JPL/SSI/J. Major


An updated version of Seymour Simon’s SATURN, with the latest information from the Cassini mission, will be published for Amazon’s Kindle Fire this September.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: space, Cool Photo, planets, Saturn   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 26, 2010

I used Google’s Sky Map app on my Droid last night for the first time. Wow! They describe this app as "the universe in your pocket," and they’re not kidding. All you do is point your phone at the sky, and it shows you what you are looking at (this is how I proved to Seymour that I was indeed looking at Mars throught the binoculars, he he). You can choose different layers (see only planets, see only constellations, etc), or you can just see them all at once.

I haven’t had much experience with Astronomy - just an amateur love of the night sky. Last night, with Google Sky Map I was able to easily find Polaris (the North Star) and for the first time I learned about 1st magnitude stars like Vega and Arkturis (the fourth brightest star in the night sky), and knew what they were.

It is a wonderful app, intuitive and easy to use (I didn’t read any instructions, just turned it on and started using it). I can’t even describe how exciting it is to be looking at a disk that you are pretty sure is a planet, turning the Google Sky Map on it and having Saturn with its rings pop up on the screen. What fun!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Astronomy, Summer Vacation Science, Saturn, Sky Watching, Google Sky Map   •  Permalink (link to this article)