October 30, 2017

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Planetarium Presents “Cassini: Farewell to Saturn” Nov. 3

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State University Planetarium will present “Cassini: Farewell to Saturn” at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3. The presentation is free of charge and open to the public.

VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences provided the following synopsis for the show: “On Sept. 15, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn, never to be heard from again. This dramatic ending brings us to another chapter in a vastly successful 13-year-long orbital study of Saturn and its moons, including the delivery of the Huygen probe — mainly built by the European Space Agency — into the cold atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

“Cassini-Huygens was launched on Oct. 15, 1997, plagued with controversy because of the radioisotope generator that powered it. After gravitational assists during flybys of Earth, Venus, and Jupiter, Cassini-Huygens entered an orbit around Saturn on June 30, 2004. The Huygens probe parachuted to a successful landing on Titan in January 2005. From its orbit around Saturn, Cassini studied the planet, its rings, and dozens of its moons, discovering that Titan, with its methane lakes, and the small Enceladus, with its briny geysers, have conditions that might have been — and might be — suitable for life.

“To spare the contamination of those two worlds as it lost fuel and control of its orientation, Cassini was retired — ordered to enter Saturn’s atmosphere, where it disintegrated. In the series of orbits termed The Grand Finale, data was collected by many instruments up to Cassini’s last moments. That data is still being studied and still delivering surprises.”

Dr. Martha Leake, a professor in the Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences, will lead the “Cassini: Farewell to Saturn” presentation. She will also share details on what is happening in the Valdosta skies.

Seating for each of the three presentations is limited to 47 guests. Free admission tickets will be distributed beginning at 6 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis at the VSU Planetarium.

The VSU Observatory will be open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting, allowing guests the opportunity to view the stars and planets.  

Located on the third floor of Nevins Hall, the VSU Planetarium features a Digitarium Kappa digital projector, which can reproduce the night sky as seen from anywhere on Earth or from the surface of any object in the solar system, at any time in history, past or future. This technology is the first of its kind in the world.

Limited parking will be available in front of Nevins Hall and across Patterson Street.

Planetarium public outreach shows are appropriate for children and adults ages 5 and up.

Contact VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences at (229) 333-5752 for more information.

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