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Thursday, February 05, 2009

 

Transit of Titan

Titan begins to transit Saturn's disk at around 11:45 ACDST on Sunday February 8 (click to enlarge, the minor Moons are exaggerated in this image).

While transits of the Galilean satellites across Jupiter happen relatively often (about a few times a month or so that are observable from any one location), transits of the Moons of Saturn, especially Titan, are much rarer.

Roughly every 14-15 years however, when Saturn's Rings are edge on, there is a chance to see Titan transit Saturn. Mike Salway discusses this over on Ice In Space, and gives transit times. There is also an awesome animation that he made of an earlier transit.

Mikes time's are actually for when Titan is already crossing the disk. Those with small scopes (114 mm, 4") will not be able to see Titan as it crosses Saturn, but you can see Titan make contact and vanish. According to me, first contact times are:
12:15 am, AEDST Monday 9 February (eastern states, Queenslanders subtract an hour)
11:45 pm, ACDST Sunday 8 February (SA, NT subtract an hour)
10:15 pm AWDST Sunday 8 February (WA).

There are further transits on February 24 and March 12.

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