June 14 Meeting of the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club, with Steve O’Meara

“Spoke” markings in Saturn’s rings are visible in the lower left.

Our speaker for the June 14 GAAC meeting will be none other than Steve O’Meara, the very accomplished astronomer and writer who, very unexpectedly, observed apparent “spokes” in Saturn’s ring system in 1976. Steve reported observing these phenomena with the 9 inch refractor at Harvard (an interesting account of the reception of O’Meara’s observations is available here, in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage). His observations were discounted by colleagues and professionals, who pointed out that no such thing could persist due to differential rotation of the rings.

Then in 1980 the Voyager 1 spacecraft visited Saturn, reported spokes in the rings, and got credit for the discovery. Some speculate that this may be because of an inherent distrust of visual observation as opposed to photographic astronomy. In his talk, Steve will speak about his observations of Saturn and the events that followed. This is sure to be a fascinating and colorful account, and, incidentally, a welcome affirmation of the value of careful visual observational astronomy — a good story all around.

Come and hear this riveting tale of discovery and professional and scientific intrigue. GAAC meets at 8:00 pm on the second Friday of every month except August, at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan Street in Lanesville. More information can be had at the club’s website, Facebook page, or on Twitter, @GAACster. There is plenty of off-street parking, and all are welcome. There is no cost.