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Dust Devils, Saturn’s Secrets And The Mystery Of An Ancient Eclipse


The October issue of the Royal Astronomical Society’s journal, “Astronomy and Geophysics”, contains the following feature articles.

Ptolemy, Babylon and the Rotation of the Earth

Many authors have questioned Ptolemy’s account of a lunar eclipse that was supposedly observed by the Babylonians. John Steele finds that Ptolemy was right to believe that Babylonian observers saw the eclipse of 23 December 383 BC - which poses a problem that can be solved by invoking a large clock error or unusual atmospheric conditions.

Inside Dust Devils

Dust devils are rotating columns of dust-laden air that are common on both Earth and Mars. T J Ringrose presents a new way to produce convective vortices in the lab, comparing the results with dust devils on these planets.

Cassini at Titan: The Story So Far

The Cassini spacecraft’s first year examining Saturn and its moons has uncovered many surprises, not least the atmosphere and surface of the enigmatic moon Titan. Nick Teanby reviews the progress made and discusses prospects for the future.

Sounding The Dark Cosmos

Recent observations suggest that the universe has been accelerating rather than slowing down in the past few billion years. Bruce Bassett, Bob Nichol and Daniel J Eisenstein explain why the Wide Field Multi-Object Spectrograph, a proposed new instrument for the Gemini and Subaru telescopes, will need to look far into the universe, over a wide area, in order to map sound waves from the dawn of time and unravel the mystery of dark energy.

Promoting Planetary Science

Mike Hapgood summarizes the RAS’s position on planetary sciences in the UK, a subject that delivers world-class results, but needs focused support in order to continue to thrive.

(A summary of the RAS position was also issued in RAS press notice PN 05/39. The full statement is available on the RAS Web site.)

Dr. Sue Bowler | alfa
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