Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Uranus ring plane crossing tomorrow!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

15-08-2007 10:58 CDT


For the second time this year, Earth is crossing the ring plane of Uranus. I won't go in to much detail about this because I covered the Uranus ring plane crossings in detail in an April post. This crossing will take us back to the southern, sunlit side of the rings. I just exchanged emails with astronomer Imke de Pater, who is at the Keck observatory in Hawaii attempting to do observations through hurricanes (Flossie, which has just been downgraded to a tropical storm) and earthquakes (there was a magnitude 5.4 event 26 miles south of Hilo on Monday); I wish clear skies -- and no further earthquakes -- to all astronomers attempting to study this rare phenomenon!

Uranus Ring Plane Crossing

Mark Showalter and Mitch Gordon of the PDS Rings Node

Uranus Ring Plane Crossing
This graph shows how Earth's view of Uranus changes during the 2007-2008 ring plane crossing season. For decades, Earth's view has been of the southern hemisphere. But as Uranus approaches its equinox, Earth will briefly -- from May 2 to August 16 -- cross the ring plane to the shadowed side of the rings (gray part of the curve) and the northern hemisphere. Then Earth recrosses the ring plane on August 16. On December 7, Uranus reaches its equinox, and the Sun goes to the north side of the rings, leaving the southern side of the rings -- the side that Earth sees -- in shadow (again, gray part of the figure). Finally, on February 16, Earth recrosses to the north side of the ring plane, and the sunlit side of the rings, until the next equinox and ring plane crossing in 2049.

See other posts from August 2007


Or read more blog entries about:


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Essential Advocacy

Our Advocacy Program provides each Society member a voice in the process.

Funding is critical. The more we have, the more effective we can be, translating into more missions, more science, and more exploration.


Featured Images

Schiaparelli crash site from HiRISE, October 25, 2016
Color map of Pluto
Comparison of Schiaparelli and Opportunity landing locations
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera image of Curiosity landing site
More Images

Featured Video

The Planetary Post - Star Trek 50th Anniversary

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!