Saturday Scenes

Thu 15 March 2012

Running Rings around the Rest

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 22:09

On the 10th of March in 1977, astronomers discovered rings around Uranus. The planet Uranus was discovered centuries earlier by William Herschel in 1781 while searching for double-stars. Funnily enough, he mentioned a ring.

Herschel was the King’s Astronomer and he called the new planet the “Georgian star” in honour of King George III. French astronomers were not in favour of this reference to the British King and called the planet “Herschel” instead. The name Uranus (after Ouranos, the Greek god of the sky) was universally adopted in 1850.

Twenty years later, Herschel said he stated that he saw a ring around the planet and even drew a sketch; however astronomers did not find evidence of the rings for almost two hundred years. Herschel’s claim was dismissed as a mistake.

After the rings were confirmed in 1977, Herschel’s sighting continued to be dismissed as he did not have the equipment necessary: the rings were too faint to see.

However, Dr Stuart Eves, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, thinks Herschel may have seen something after all.

Did William Herschel Discover The Rings Of Uranus In The 18th Century?

“Herschel got a lot of things right”, notes Dr Eves, “He has a ring of roughly the correct size relative to the planet, and he also has the orientation of this ring in the right direction. In addition, he accurately describes the way the appearance of the ring changes as Uranus moves around the Sun, and he even gets its colour right. Uranus’s Epsilon ring is somewhat red in colour, a fact only recently confirmed by the Keck telescope, and Herschel mentions this in his paper.”

Meanwhile, on the 10th of March in 2011, many photographers looked to the skies for inspiration and then took these astronomically amazing examples of Saturday Scenes:

And here are the super stars that took them:

Would you like to share their fame and fortune? Join us on Saturday: it’s easy!

  1. Take a photograph (on Saturday!)
  2. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location

I’m looking forward to seeing your photograph in the next edition!

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