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Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Here are a few things you should know about our solar system this week:

1. Gearing Up for a Grand Finale

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There’s just a year left until the Cassini mission begins its Grand Finale – the final phase of its mission, during which the spacecraft will dive repeatedly between the planet and the rings. To get ready, the Cassini team has launched an enhanced, mobile device-friendly version of the mission website. The site includes information about Cassini, Saturn, the moons and the rings – but it also tells the human stories behind one of the most ambitions expeditions of all time.

2.Caught in Transit

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

On Monday, May 9, the planet Mercury will cross directly in front of the sun, an event that hasn’t occurred since 2006 and won’t happen again until 2019. Find out how to watch HERE.  

3. A Moon for Makemake

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Our Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a small, dark moon orbiting Makemake (pronounced “MAH-kay MAH-kay). Make make is the second brightest icy dwarf planet – after Pluto – in the faraway Kuiper Belt.

4. The Age of the Aquarids

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The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is the first of two showers that occur each year as a result of Earth passing through dust released by Halley’s Comet. This year, it should peak on the night of May 5/6. Get tips for watching HERE.

5. The Southern Lights of Saturn

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On May 4, Cassini will reach periapse, the closest point to Saturn in the spacecraft’s orbit. At about this time, Cassini’s cameras will monitor Saturn’s south polar aurorae, and also image the bright limb of the planet to better understand its upper haze layers.

Want to learn more? Read our full list of the 10 things to know this week about the solar system HERE.

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