Submissions Needed for Saturn Mosaic Project

For all our astrophotographer friends out there: If you haven’t heard about the Saturn Mosaic Project, you’ll want to take note of this. In cooperation with Astronomers Without Borders, the special project for the recent Cassini image of planet Earth, called The Day The Earth Smiled (TDTES) is sponsoring a Saturn Mosaic project, where you can submit an image you’ve taken of Saturn. Those received will be compiled into a mosaic that will look like image that Cassini took on July 19, showing Earth just below Saturn’s rings (see below). But when you zoom in you’ll see all the pictures from Earth that the mosaic is made of.

I received a note from AWB President Mike Simmons saying they need more submissions, and the deadline for submitting a photo has been extended to July 29, 2013.

“I know a lot more people will want to be a part of this if they know about it,” Mike said via email. “It’s something to tide everyone over and keep the buzz going while we wait for the final mosaic from Cassini.”

But you don’t have to be a seasoned astrophotographer to take part in the Saturn Mosaic. The image you submit doesn’t have to be one taken with a large telescope – just take a picture of Saturn as a “star” in the sky with an ordinary camera, capturing your surroundings as well. Or it could be an image you took earlier this year.

“There are other kinds of photos that anyone can submit that don’t even requiring imaging the sky,” Simmons added. “We didn’t want to limit this to only those with the ability and weather to image Saturn itself.  Photos of outreach events or people waving at Saturn from JPL’s Wave at Saturn are good, too.  Or just a portrait taken with the Lord of the Rings — a live view projected from a telescope or even a photo.  Like a couple getting married at the time Cassini was taking their photo (and everyone else’s) posed with Saturn.  I took the easy way and took a shot of me and Saturn in my office.”

These can be taken any time, so people can still take a shot and get into the mosaic (the image does need to have been taken in 2013, however.)

“It’s all about sharing and commemorating the excitement of the moment when the photo was taken, and the anticipation of the release of Cassini’s historic photos,” Simmons said.  “Like all Astronomers Without Borders project, it’s open to everyone on Earth.  And beyond.”

For a slide show of some of the great shots people have submitted so far, visit the Saturn Mosaic Project page to see things like Saturn with a T-Rex, outreach in Iran, kids drawings of Saturn in Ghana, and more.

Simmons said The World at Night will create the final mosaic, which is expected to be online and ready to view and zoom in on by August 4 or earlier.

So take your best shot and be a part of the mosaic! Find out more on the Astronomers Without Borders website.

The Day the Earth Smiled: Sneak Preview. In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn's rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
The Day the Earth Smiled: Sneak Preview. In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

You Can Now PhotoBomb Spacecraft Images of Earth Not Once, But Twice This Weekend

You’ve hopefully heard about the chance to have your picture taken this Friday – along with the rest of humanity – by the Cassini spacecraft, currently about 1 billion km away as it orbits Saturn. But now another spacecraft has joined in on the fun.

Inspired in part by the Cassini team, scientists from the MESSENGER mission at Mercury realized their upcoming orbital parameters has Earth coincidentally in the crosshairs of its cameras as it takes images to search for natural satellites around Mercury on July 19 and 20. So we’ve got not one, but TWO spacecraft to smile at, pose for, and generally be on good behavior as they take pictures of planet Earth. Here’s when you should be smiling and waving:

MESSENGER will be taking images at 11:49, 12:38, and 13:41 UTC (4:49 a.m., 5:38 a.m. and 6:41 a.m. PDT or 7:49 a.m., 8:38 a.m. and 9:41 a.m. EDT, or) on both days, July 19 and 20. Parts of Earth not illuminated in the Cassini images, including all of Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, will appear illuminated in the MESSENGER images. MESSENGER’s images also will take a few days to process prior to release, the team said.

The image taken from the Saturn system by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will occur between 21:27 and 21:47 UTC (2:27 and 2:42 PDT, 5:27 and 5:42 p.m. EDT) on Friday, July 19. Cassini will be nearly 900 million miles (nearly 1.5 billion kilometers) away from Earth. NASA is encouraging the public to look and wave in the direction of Saturn at the time of the portrait and share their pictures via the Internet.

The 'Wave at Saturn" event will be the first time Earthlings have had advance notice that their picture will be taken from interplanetary distances. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The ‘Wave at Saturn” event will be the first time Earthlings have had advance notice that their picture will be taken from interplanetary distances. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

If Saturn isn’t in your field of view at the time, you can join in online to take a look at Saturn with Gianluca Masi and the Virtual Telescope Project from Italy.

Also, at the exact time the Cassini spacecraft is snapping pics of Earth, the Slooh Space Camera will be snapping images of Saturn – live and in true color – with live broadcast team. Their feed starts at 2:30 PM PDT / 5:30 PM EDT / 21:30 UTC with live views of Saturn from the Canary Islands.

We’ll embed the feed here:

There are events associated with this Wave at Saturn event, and we’ll repost the info from our previous article:

For all our astrophotographer friends out there, in cooperation with Astronomers Without Borders, TDTES is sponsoring a Saturn Mosaic project, where you can submit an image you’ve taken of Saturn. Urgency note: this has to be submitted by July 22, 2013.

Astronomers Without Borders is also sponsoring a special Saturn Observing Program, and they are encouraging people and organizations to either organize a special observing event for July 19 (you can register it as an official event here) or to attend an event near you. You can find TDTES events here. This can be a full-blown observing event with telescopes, or just an excuse to get together with friends to go out and look at Saturn in the night sky.

There are also two competitions — one is to submit photos that best represents Earth (the image must be taken on July 19, 2013) and another is to write an original song about this event. The digital versions of the winning entries will be beamed to space at a later date.

Find more information at The Day The Earth Smiled website, and the Astronomers Without Borders website.

NASA also has info about events for the #Wave at Saturn event, including charts on where and when to look for Saturn in the night sky here. NASA says these charts take into account the light travel time from Saturn.

Hey Planet Earth! Get Ready to Smile and Wave for a Camera That’s a Billion Kilometers Away

July 19, 2013 will be a day that we should really all try to get along. Isn’t that a noble goal? And you can be a part of it in several different ways. In a special project, the Cassini spacecraft will be taking an image of Earth, from the spacecraft’s orbit around Saturn. Specifically, Cassini will be on the far side of Saturn when it snaps a picture of “us” between 21:27 to 21:42 UTC (5:27-5:42 pm EDT.) Cassini will be in just the right spot that it can “see” Earth, but Saturn will be blocking the glare from the Sun. There will likely be a dramatic view of Saturn and its rings in the foreground, with Earth off in the distance. Our home planet won’t be much more than a few pixels in the image, but it will be “us, …everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was,” as Carl Sagan said about the Pale Blue Dot image taken by the Voyager spacecraft.

“It will be a day to revel in the extraordinary achievements in the exploration of our solar system that have made such an interplanetary photo session possible,” said Cassini imaging team leader Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute, who had the idea for this special image. “And it will be a day for all of us to smile and celebrate life on the Pale Blue Dot.”

The event is called The Day The Earth Smiled, and this is very cool for several reasons.

Voyager 1 pale blue dot. Image credit: NASA/JPL
Voyager 1 pale blue dot. Image credit: NASA/JPL

First, while Earth has been imaged before from other distant spacecraft (the famous Pale Blue Dot image and Cassini has taken pictures of Earth before) this is the first time that many of the inhabitants of Earth will know the image is being taken – hence the invitation to smile and wave.

Second, Saturn is now visible in the night sky — bright and shining — allowing us a direct line of sight to smile and wave back. No, we can’t see Cassini, but we know it’s there!

Plus, there’s other special chances to submit your own images – of Saturn, and of Earth, or of yourself in the moments Cassini is taking the image.

For all our astrophotographer friends out there, in cooperation with Astronomers Without Borders, TDTES is sponsoring a Saturn Mosaic project, where you can submit an image you’ve taken of Saturn. Urgency note: this has to be submitted by July 22, 2013.

Astronomers Without Borders is also sponsoring a special Saturn Observing Program, and they are encouraging people and organizations to either organize a special observing event for July 19 (you can register it as an official event here) or to attend an event near you. You can find TDTES events here. This can be a full-blown observing event with telescopes, or just an excuse to get together with friends to go out and look at Saturn in the night sky.

There are also two competitions — one is to submit photos that best represents Earth (the image must be taken on July 19, 2013) and another is to write an original song about this event. The digital versions of the winning entries will be beamed to space at a later date.

Find more information at The Day The Earth Smiled website, and the Astronomers Without Borders website.

NASA also has some charts on where and when to look for Saturn in the night sky here. NASA says these charts take into account the light travel time from Saturn.

And don’t forget to smile and think about all the good things about our world.