COMMENT ON SCIENCE COMMUNICATION AND ASTRONOMY


FINDING the F RING of SATURN: A COMMENT on ASTRONOMY and SCIENCE COMMUNICATION

by

John A. Jaksich

Saturn Image from Cassini Probe in False Color (VIMS imager)credit: NASA/JPL

Saturn Image from Cassini Probe in False Color (VIMS imager)
credit: NASA/JPL

The first time one gazes upon Saturn through a telescope one may wonder where and how did Saturn get its rings. Saturn’s system of rings is one of the most outstanding characteristics whch most will notice when learning the Solar System. Besides the inherent beauty which it engenders to the beholder, it may feel quite familiar.

Saturn's F Ringcredit: NASA/JPL

Saturn’s F Ring
credit: NASA/JPL

Besides, the vernacular and colloquialism of speech are filled with references to our place in the sky. Our vocabulary and their references to the sky range from the mundane (e.g. phases of the moon) to the references used in more serious tones (e.g. cosmological constant). So, could this everyday vernacular enable us to better utilize and understand our place within the Universe’s context? Well, if it has, our vernacular has served a path of aversion to the mundane and thus enlighten minds of those who master its destiny.

Put another way—those who possess the ability to comprehend the natural world do not stop long enough to count angels on pinheads—rather, an attempt is made to forge a unique, quantitative understanding. The understanding which, in concept, seems deceptively simple, but arrives at a cost to to those who will not attempt to at least master its discipline.

Through science’s mastery, we choose a path akin to one “which diverged at the wood*—one leading to strength in character and a diverse contentedness—while the other is replete with mediocre self-satisfaction.”

* my sincerest apologies to Robert Frost

Schematic Cassini with VIMS (emphasis)credit: NASA/JPL

Schematic Cassini with VIMS (emphasis)
credit: NASA/JPL

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