eppur, si muove

As Galileo Galilei may, or may not, have said. Worryingly, some people still don’t know that it does.. muove, that is – as Instapundit notes, from this profile of political scientist, Dr. Jon D. Miller in the NYT, “One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth..” So, as part of an ongoing effort to avoid a similar situation developing here *ahem* I present the latest Notes on the Solar System. From details of Saturn’s moon Enceladus from the Cassini fly-by to how the entire galaxy may come a cropper.. don’t worry it’s [at least] 5 billion years ahead… much more over the gapThe famous quote, and thread title, was reportedly said by Galileo, on 22 June 1633, after he was formally sentenced to life imprisonment [in reality house-arrest] by the Inquistion at the end of his trial for the heresy of holding, defending or teaching that the Earth moves around the Sun – the translation is “yet it moves” [and, incidentially, the heresy related to a book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems: Ptolemaic and Copernican, which went on sale in March 1632.. two years after its completion, during which time the official censors in Rome only requested some minor changes before they actually approved the text before it went to print]. Three of the ten cardinals present refused to sign the sentence and it was passed on a majority verdict.

Galileo was also the first astronomer to note that there was something unusual about the appearance of Saturn, around the time of the publication of The Starry Messenger in 1610, translated extract here.. using a telescope he constructed with a magnifying power of around 20 to 30 times.. although that observational puzzle didn’t start to be solved until 1655, when the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens realised that it was the result of Saturn having a ring system.

ANYway… To today’s notes..

The Huygens part of the Cassini-Huygens probe has already done its part, landing on Titan back in January, and the data from then is still being processed.

Meanwhile the Cassini orbiter continues to observe and transmit back to Earth. The latest results are from a fly-by of Enceladus in July. Nasa has a collection of the latest images

On Monday the orbiter passed Titan again. More information here

But the image that would delight Galileo, possibly even more than the others, may be this one of Saturn’s ring system in detail, complete with shepherd moon Pan – Pan is only 26 kilometers (16 miles) across – a ring system that has its own atmosphere

As for where this leads us.. looking back to see the [possible] future

The BBC report is based on the images of two colliding galaxies, approximately 100 million light years away, from the Gemini Observatory – which consists of twin 8-meter optical/infrared telescopes, one located ona mountain, in the Chilean Andes, called Cerro Pachón and the other on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea

The observatory site has a much better image of the colliding galaxies here.. with a couple of even better images available here

That should sort out the science quota for the next week – Ed.