A Year of Cassini

By Phil Plait | December 31, 2008 8:00 am
Cassini view of Enceladus

The end of the year always elicits annual reviews of events, of course. They can be boring, funny, awe-inspiring, useless, and LOL-inducing. But it’s not often you get one that’s literally other-worldly.

But that’s just what Carolyn Porco delivers with her 2008 "Captain’s Log" summary of a year of discovery from the Cassini Saturn probe. Even if you don’t like the usual annual nostalgia, I think this is one you’ll want to look at. Enceladus, rings, Titan, the planet itself: they’re all there, with links to science and pictures that’ll keep you warm on this New Year’s Eve.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (21)

  1. Gnat

    So, how does one pronounce “Enceladus”?

  2. BigBob

    Captain’s log; like it. Nobody gets the outreach concept like Carolyn Porco that’s for sure. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
    Happy new year Phil, keep it up.
    Happy new year everyone.
    Bob (Big)

  3. BigBob

    I believe it’s en-SELL-a-dus.

  4. Gnat

    Thanks, BigBob! That’s prettier than the way I was saying it!

  5. kuhnigget

    EN-sell-a-dus would be the East Texas pronunciation.

    En-sell-AD-us would be the French salad dressing.

    En-sell-a-DUHS would be the news media pronunciation.

    And so forth.

  6. Todd W.

    Pronounced “salads” in English, “sarada” in Japanese…oh, wait… :)

  7. Gnat: “So, how does one pronounce ‘Enceladus’?”


    Enceladus [en-seluh-duhs] — noun
    1. Classical Mythology. A giant with a hundred arms buried under Mount Etna, in Sicily.
    2. Astronomy. A natural satellite of the planet Saturn.

    (Click on my name for the link to the web-site, and there press the “HEAR” button.)

  8. Todd W.


    Though, if it is a Greek word, shouldn’t it properly be pronounced [en-KEL-uh-duhs]?

  9. Happy New Year, Phil. May 2009 bring many new disccoveries!

  10. Bill Nettles

    Since everything is related to global warming these days, it must be pronounced “insulate us.”

  11. Case

    Awesome pics! Thanks for the reference Phil. By the way, one of the best Science Top 10 lists I’ve found this year is at a blog called Valence. Here’s the url if anyone interested in checking it out: http://valenced.wordpress.com/

  12. IVAN3MAN

    @ Todd W.,

    At the dictionary web-site that I had referenced and provided a link to, it does state at the bottom that the word “Enceladus” comes from the Greek Enkelados.

  13. Happy flipping of the page that marks the start of the International Year of Astronomy!

  14. It’s the new year somewhere on the globe right now. Happy New Year to those of you just west of the date line!

  15. Everybody, have a happy new year!

  16. sdrDusty

    Dr. Porco is amazing. Can’t help but note: from the CICLOPS page– only woman on the Cassini Imaging Science Team.

  17. Scott Smith

    Does Saturn qualify as a planet since it hasn’t cleared its local area of debris as evidenced by the rings? Such a shame, and such a beautiful celestial body to look at. too bad it isn’t a bit closer.

    Happy New Year every one!


  18. “Does Saturn qualify as a planet since it hasn‚Äôt cleared its local area of debris as evidenced by the rings?”
    Yes, it qualifies.
    1. “Clearning the orbit” does not means destroying every little speck of dust in solar system. “Pluto is planet” trolls often insinuate this, if not blatantly claims this. Liars. Well, they are trolls, what you expected?
    2. Other, surviving bodies in patch on Saturn orbit are gravitationally controlled by Saturn. This is same reason that Jupiter Trojans will not unplanet Jupiter. Trojans, Saturn rings would not exists without parent bodies like Jupiter or Saturn.

  19. Scott Smith

    I was being silly. The whole modern definition is so vague in areas it makes me wonder if anything could be a planet. And what about exo-planets? Yes I know that they are super Jupiters, but could it be they haven’t cleared their orbits of junk? Again, I’m being silly mostly because I won’t demote Pluto. ūüėČ

  20. What a totally mind-blowing picture. Another keeper!

    Thank you for posting it.



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