News from Space: Smile for the Space Probes!

cassini_spaceprobeFor those who love to stargaze, or people who just can’t resist having their picture taken, this weekend will present a number of cool opportunities. For many, the news that the Cassini space probe will be taking pictures of planet Earth this Friday is already known. But as it turns out, the MESSENGER space probe, currently in orbit around Mercury, has decided to get in on the action.

This is a rare opportunity indeed, and is associated with the Saturn Mosaic Project, something that Astronomers Without Borders is helping out with. The entire point is to give Earthlings a better view of the planet they call home, as well as to stimulate interest in Saturn, its rings, and many orbiting satellites. The SMP is also accepting images taken of Saturn, and has extended its deadline for submissions to July 29th.

wave_at_saturnThere are also other competitions associated with the event – one is to submit photos that best represents Earth (the image must be taken on July 19th, 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.

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

If you’re looking to get in on the fun, this is the time when you should be looking at the heavens: First up, Cassini’s photo op will be taking place between 21:27 and 21:47 UTC (2:27 and 2:42 PDT, 5:27 and 5:42 p.m. EDT) on Friday, July 19th. MESSENGER, meanwhile, 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) on July 19th and 20th.

Sorry for the late notice. Just look up at the sky and wave. As long as you keep doing it for the next thirty-six to forty-eight hours, I’m sure you can’t miss. Man, times zones are tricky!

Sources: universetoday.com, astronomerswithoutborders.org, saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

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