What's up for March?

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What's up for March?
03.19.08
 
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Mars and Saturn are beautiful this month, and we’ll also get to see the light from a dying star.

I’m Jane Houston Jones at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

A few months ago, JPL’s camera on NASA’s Hubble telescope took an image of a dying star.

This special dying star is called a planetary nebula and when you look through your telescope you won’t see the beautiful colors you’ll see in the Hubble images but you’ll still get to see the nebula with your own eyes.

This planetary nebula can be found in the constellation Gemini, and that’s also where Mars is located this month.

You can see Mars with the unaided eye and through a telescope you’ll see a round disk with a little bit of features showing but it’s getting further away from Earth.

When the Phoenix lander lands on Mars in late May, we’ll still be able to see Mars in the western sky.

Saturn looks really great again this month, and through a telescope you’ll probably be able to see the Cassini division, a little narrow band of darkness separating the rings.

When you look at Saturn through a telescope, you’ll often see several of the moons, and this month the Cassini spacecraft flew by one of the very special moons of Saturn, Enceladus.

You can see Enceladus through medium and large telescopes. It’s really tiny, it’s only about 300 miles in diameter and it’s nearly ¾ of a billion miles away but it’s so bright that you can actually see it.

In 2005, Cassini discovered geysers spewing off the surface of Enceladus.

During this flyby, several of Cassini’s instruments were taking measurements of the composition of the geysers as well as the relationship between the geysers and Saturn’s rings.

That's all for this month, I'm Jane Houston Jones.

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