Watch Titan Occult a Binary Star System

by Nancy Atkinson on August 27, 2010

Titan passing in front of the binary star system named NV0435215+200905. Credit: Palomar Observator


Scott Kardel from the Palomar Observatory just posted something extremely cool on his Palomar Skies website. Back in 2001, a group of astronomers used the 200-inch Hale Telescope equipped with adaptive optics to observe Saturn’s moon Titan pass in front of a binary star system. The binary stars are separated in the sky by just 1.5 arc seconds, but because of the fantastic resolving power of the Hale and its adaptive optics, visible in the image above is the light of the star nearest to Titan being refracted by Titan’s dense atmosphere. As Scott said, such events are rare but valuable. Mike Brown (of Eris fame) was among the astronomers and on Twitter today, he linked to a video the team created from their observations, which is just awesome. Not only did they see the occultation, but they also found out that Titan has jet stream-like winds in its atmosphere. Watch the movie, (or see below, someone has now YouTubed it) and then read their paper about the event!

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: