Friday, March 4, 2011

Look, it’s the Empire’s Death Star!

Click here to see a photograph of the Empire’s Death Star.  No… wait…  it’s actually Mimas, a moon of Saturn.  Mimas has a large crater named Herschel which makes it look like the Death Star in the Empire Strikes Back.
Mimas was discovered in 1789 by William Herschel.  It is the moon closest to Saturn and the eighth moon orbiting Saturn.  It is quite small at only 250 miles in diameter (approximately the distance from New York City to the suburbs of Washington DC).  The surface of Mimas is dominated by the crater Herschel which was probably created by a large asteroid hitting the moon.  The entire surface of Mimas appears to be covered by smaller craters. 
William Herschel’s son suggested that the moon keep in the tradition of naming celestial objects after Greek Mythological figures.  Herschel named this moon Mimas after the son of Gaia.  Mimas and his brothers were Gigantes, serpent-footed giants.  Ares, the Greek God of War, killed Mimas killed in battle. 
William Herschel built his own telescopes, the most powerful at that time.  In 1781, he had another very important find, Uranus, the first planet identified with a telescope and the first discovered since ancient times. 

No comments:

Post a Comment