FMU hosted a planetarium presentation and an observatory event for students and the community in order to discuss the crash of satellite Cassini into Saturn’s atmosphere and to view several planets and stars.
To begin the night’s events, Dr. Jeannette Myers, professor of astronomy and director of Dooley Planetarium, delivered a presentation in the planetarium that discussed Saturn’s history and the launch of Cassini.
According to Myers, Cassini was launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1997 and is the only satellite to study Saturn by orbiting the planet and its moons. Myers said that the planning process for building and launching the rocket took years of collaboration with other nations.
“Building a spacecraft like Cassini requires a lot of time and money,” Myers said. “In order to help offset the production costs, NASA partnered with the European Space Agency who built the Huygens space probe. This crash is a big day in scientific history. After years of circling Saturn and collecting information, its first satellite has completed its mission.”
After the presentation, Myers answered questions from members of the audience and encouraged them to attend an observation being held at the Observatory.
According to Myers, Dooley Planetarium staff co-sponsored the event.
Myers, along with help from members of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), planned and directed the viewing at the Observatory.
After the attendees had taken part in these activities, members of SPS set up two telescopes focused on Saturn and Jupiter and another telescope to be used for deep-space viewing. After sunset, SPS members gave instructions on using the telescope and helped show the attendees where they should look in order to see various planets and stars in space.
Attendees were invited to stay at the viewing until 10 p.m.