• MHCC Planetarium Preview: Cassini's Grand Finale

    The Cassini spacecraft recently ended its 20-year mission by crashing into Saturn after completing several daring dives between the planet and its rings. NASA launched Cassini in 1997. The spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn since 2004 and returned some amazing pictures of the planet and its rings and moons.

    Cassini’s last ring portrait of Saturn, taken Sept. 26, 2017
    (Photo credit: NASA). NASA combined 32 of the last pictures
    taken by Cassini to produce this image of Saturn. In it you
    can see Saturn's shadow falling on the rings. Three days
    later, Cassini took a planned dive inside Saturn's
    rings and then burned up in the planet’s
    atmosphere while traveling at some 77,000 mph

    The Mt. Hood Community College Planetarium Sky Theater’s November show will focus on the voyage of Cassini. MHCC Planetarium Director Pat Hanrahan will show some of the best images captured by the spacecraft. These images show, in detail, the rings of Saturn; massive weather systems on the planet; small moons that help direct the rings; and larger moons, including one that resembles the Death Star and another that could harbor an ocean with living organisms. Hanrahan will also present on the current nighttime sky and what stargazers can see.

    Showings of “Cassini's Grand Finale After 13 Years at Saturn” will occur Friday, Nov. 3, at 6 and 7:15 p.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 6 and 7:15 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to ask questions during the 45-minute live program.

    The Planetarium Sky Theater is wheelchair accessible. Admission for the general public is $5, and $2 for children (17 and younger) and for MHCC students (student ID required). Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.

    For a complete schedule of 2017-18 school year MHCC Planetarium shows, visit mhcc.edu/planetarium/

    A hurricane on Saturn’s North Pole, taken Nov. 2012 (Photo credit: NASA). Centered inside Saturn's giant hexagon structure is a permanent hurricane system that hangs at its North Pole. The hurricane is roughly 1,200 miles wide with winds reaching 300 mph – twice the speed of a Category 4 hurricane on Earth.