02/21/2017 – Ephemeris – Finding Saturn this morning and Cassini’s future
Ephemeris for Tuesday, February 21st. The Sun will rise at 7:32. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 6:19. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:48 tomorrow morning.
This morning the crescent Moon will act as a pointer to the planet Saturn. The ringed planet will appear to the right of our Moon. Saturn’s rings will show in any telescope with 20 times magnification or greater. Out at Saturn for the last 13 years and for the next 7 months the robot spacecraft Cassini has been orbiting the ringed planet using gravity assists from the giant moon Titan as a fulcrum to leverage itself into many different orbits to study Saturn’s rings and collection of moons. In a bit over seven months it’s fantastic journey will be over. Low on fuel, it will plunge between the rings and the cloud tops, spiraling in towards its doom September 30th into the planet’s atmosphere so as not to contaminate the icy moons which could possibly harbor life.
Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.