A couple quick notes on news from the world of astronomy:
- The Cassini spacecraft is poised to take orbit around Saturn. They will be firing it’s engines starting at about 10:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time) tonight to put the spacecraft in orbit. Anyone in the DC/Baltimore metro area is invited to the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Visitor Center this evening to watch the JPL mission operations center, hear GSFC people involved in Cassini speak, and participate in some sky-viewing with the GSFC astronomy club. The activities start at 7PM.
- Astronomers have reported finding a very old, very massive black hole: Massive Black Hole Stumps Researchers. The blazar hosting this black hole is at a distance of about 12.7 billion light years, which puts it’s formation at just about a billion years after the Universe formed. Astronomers aren’t sure, yet, how supermassive black holes form, but this one became very large, very quickly, so may put some limits on formation theories. (The original paper appears in The Astrophyisical Journal Letters, volume 610. Subscription is required to view article on-line.)