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Saturn Ring Plane Crossings of 1995-1996

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Apache Point Observatory, New Mexico
February 12, 1996

"I do not know what to say in a case so surprising,
 so unlooked for and so novel."  
                                 Galileo - 1612

During 1995 and 1996, the rings of Saturn will be seen edge-on from the Earth's perspective on three ocassions, and from the Sun's perspective once. The triple ring plane crossings are particularly favorable in providing astronomers a unique opportunity to observe Saturn's rings and moons. During a ring plane crossing when the rings are edge-on to Earth, the glare from the rings is reduced considerably, and faint objects near Saturn are easier to see. Thirteen of Saturn's moons have been discovered during ring plane crossing events, including three new moons during the last ring plane crossings in 1979-1980. At least two new moons have already been discovered during the current ring plane crossings this year. The dates for the upcoming ring plane crossings are:

 gball1.gif May 22, 1995 0518 UTC - 1st Earth Crossing (24 minutes)
 gball1.gif Aug 10, 1995 2054 UTC - 2nd Earth Crossing (28 minutes)
 gball1.gif Nov 19, 1995 1509 UTC - Sun Crossing, No Shadow (3.8 days)
 gball1.gif Feb 11, 1996 2334 UTC - 3rd Earth Crossing (12 minutes)

The above times are accurate to within 2 hours. After 1996, the next Saturn triple ring plane crossing won't take place until the year 2038 - so don't miss out on this opportunity!

 gball1.gif Ring Plane Inclination Versus Time
 gball1.gif Saturn Observation Forms

News Flash

gball1.gif Saturn's Disappearing Rings (NASA - May 18, 1995). gball1.gif Saturn's Thin Rings (Sky & Telescope - May 26, 1995) gball1.gif Hubble Captures Saturn's Rings Edge-On (NASA - June 5, 1995) gball1.gif Four New Saturn Satellites Discovered! (IAU Circular - July 26, 1995). gball1.gif Hubble Discovers New Saturn Moons (NASA - July 28, 1995). gball1.gif Two Saturn Moons May Be Existing Satellites (August 8, 1995). gball1.gif Hubble Again Views Saturn's Rings Edge-On (NASA - August 11, 1995). gball1.gif November 1995 Sun Crossing is Very Unusual (Bob Victor - August 12, 1995). gball1.gif New Saturn Moons Observed by Hubble! (IAU Circular - October 4, 1995). gball1.gif Saturn Moon Mystery Continues (October 5, 1995).

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Please direct questions and comments about this Home Page to
Ron Baalke
ron@jpl.nasa.gov

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