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Observer's Notes
By the Director of Astronomy
at Chabot Space and Science Center
Oakland, California

by Jose Olivarez

OBSERVATION OF A BI-COLOR
ASPECT OF SATURN'S CREPE RING

Date: February 1, 2001 UT
Time: 2:30 UT
Telescope: Chabot 20-inch refractor stopped down to 16 inches
Magnification 260X (Brandon eyepiece)
Seeing Excellent (10 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 best)
Transparency: Sky very clear

Observing Notes:
The Crepe Ring (Ring C) was not of the same color on the east and west side of the Saturn globe. On the west side of Saturn (where the ball of Saturn casts its shadow on the rings), the Crepe Ring was a distinct steel blue color. However, on the east side of Saturn, the Crepe Ring was a distinct light brown (faun) color.

This bi-color aspect of the Crepe Ring was very obvious to me at this time, but I had noted the same color difference about a month earlier when I looked at Saturn with this telescope under good seeing conditions. I have excellent visual color acuity and can easily discern colors on Jupiter, so this observation was not an illusion nor a "spectral effect" made by the telescope's objective or the atmosphere. Indeed, the color difference of the Crepe Ring at its east-west sides was even more distinct in superb seeing than it was in good seeing! Also, Rings A and B did not exhibit the color difference noted in Ring C.

Can Saturn observers confirm this East (Brown) /West (Blue) color aspect of Saturn's Crepe Ring ?

Jose Olivarez
jolivarez@chabotspace.org


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Asteroid mission
not yet "NEAR" an end
Excerpted from a NASA release (1/20/2001 from Donald Savage at NASA Headquarters, Washington DC)

NASA's NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft, the first spacecraft to touch down and operate on the surface of an asteroid, will not be immediately shut down after all.

The mission will be extended for up to 10 days to gather data from a scientific instrument that could provide unprecedented information about the surface and subsurface composition of the asteroid Eros.
NEAR spent the last year in a close-orbit study of asteroid 433 Eros, a near-Earth asteroid that is currently 196 million miles from Earth. During that time it collected 10x more data than originally planned and completed all of its goals before its descent to the asteroid.


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Comet Comments
by Ellis Myers

In October, 1999, Robert McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia discovered a comet on a plate that had been exposed by Malcolm Hartley using the U.K. Schmidt telescope. Designated C/1999 T1, Comet McNaught-Hartley has since brightened as it has moved northward, until it can now be observed with binoculars or small telescopes in the pre-dawn sky.
It is at 8th magnitude, but it will dim to perhaps 9.5 by the end of February. Observers should be able to spot it in the constellation Hercules, slightly to the left of the "keystone." It is moving about one degree per day northward toward Draco.
Also in the morning sky is comet C/2000 W1, named Utsunomiya-Jones, but this one is even fainter, moving from Sagittarius into Ophiuchus. Albert Jones, in New Zealand, is credited with a previous comet discovery-in 1946, 54 years ago! Syogo Utsunomiya found the comet independently in Japan last November.
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