Cassini Spacecraft Visits Enceladus & Saturn's Giant Hexagon
New Dateline! - November 3, 2015...Last Wednesday October
28, the Cassini spacecraft, still investigating Saturn for the last 11 years,
flew close to the south polar region of the "Geyser Moon" Enceladus,
where it appears water in some form is spewing out. There will be another fly
by on December 19. Photos are in the process of being sent to and analyzed by
NASA. For more on this incredible mission, go to the NASA.gov website.
Meanwhile, the original, multi-updated story on the Cassini-Huygens Mission to
Saturn and its extraordinary accomplishments is below. Enjoy!
Updated Thanksgiving 2014 as we approach this year's Winter Solstice and Capricorn New Moon (both on Sunday December 21, 2014 as well as Saturn temporarily entering fiery & mutable Sagittarius two days later, on December 23, 2014. Plus, previous updates have happened on June 25, 2011, and January 28, 2011 with original story written on January 9, 2011: And! a medieval magical talisman associated with the planet Saturn is shown further below...and the Capricorn New Moon chart appears at the end of the story in the special chart section.
Even though the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn began on October 15, 1997, it has recently been extended to continue into 2017 – following extraordinary discoveries at the beautiful ringed planet since its arrival in 2004.
Since it is now January 2011 (timing of this original story) – the main month each year dominated by Saturn (in its rulership of Capricorn) – and Inner Sight is launching its own extended website in the near future, it feels appropriate to briefly explore here three of the more remarkable stories related to observations and analysis conducted by the main Cassini spacecraft as well as the Huygens probe that landed on Titan six years ago this month.
Giant Hexagon at Saturn’s North Pole
When the Voyager Missions passed by Saturn around 30 years
ago – on their way to more celebrated encounters with Uranus (1986) and Neptune
(1989) – they found a strange anomaly forming at the North Pole of Saturn. A
giant hexagon – composed of swirling gases – was clearly visible at the top of
When the Cassini-Huygens Mission arrived in 2004, the North Pole of Saturn was enshrouded in darkness, but an infrared spectrometer on board the main spacecraft detected that the giant hexagon was still there. Later on – when the North Pole of Saturn shifted into one of daylight phases – more extensive photography was conducted – finding all kinds of circles, streamers, curlicues, and other moving features inside the hexagon.
It is estimated that 4 Earths could fit inside this hexagon, and that each of its straight sides (approximately 8,700 miles) is longer than the diameter of our planet.
The hexagon may go as deep as 60 miles into Saturn’s atmosphere and scientists are still puzzled about why it is there and how long it has existed.
From the spiritual angle, it is noteworthy that the ancient Star of David or Seal of Solomon (symbolized by a hexagram or six-pointed star) is connected to the kings of Ancient Israel. In Roman mythology, Saturn was said to have ruled over the “Golden Age.” In astrology, Saturn’s sign of Capricorn dominates the archetypal wheel of the zodiac – being placed in the overhead or tenth position, signifying the chief authority or executive at the top of the ladder of power.
In the tenth chapter – in a book by Joan Hodgson called The Stars and the Chakras: The Astrology of Spiritual Unfoldment – the author discusses the Heart Chakra as connecting to the element of air and appearing as a twelve-petalled lotus, at the center of which is a six-pointed star. She relates this six-pointed star to Saturn – which she reminds the reader is exalted in the air sign of Libra.
When the hexagon on top of Saturn was first sighted in 1981, transiting Saturn was in Libra. Now – one Saturn cycle around the zodiac later – transiting Saturn is back in Libra. When the Cassini-Huygens Mission was launched on October 15, 1997, the Sun was located in Libra (and closely opposite Saturn in Aries) and, around Halloween 2011, transiting Saturn will unite with the Sun at the time of the launch from October 15, 1997.
The number six is also the first perfect number and the only perfect number of the main integers from 1 to 9. A perfect number – as defined and understood by the ancient Pythagorean Fellowship existing in Southern Italy over 5 centuries before the time of Christ – is formed if its divisors or factors add up to the number itself. The number six can be divided by 1, 2 and 3 evenly, and those three divisors add up to 6. The next perfect number is 28 – so perfect numbers are rare in mathematics.
Six is a number that connects to the concepts of balance, harmony, peace and “marriage” – whether that marriage is considered one between spirit and matter, soul and personality, or two individuals living on Planet Earth.
On page 370 and 373 of A Treatise on Cosmic Fire by Alice A. Bailey, there are drawings of a six-pointed star (with key planets at each point and Saturn shown at the center) as well as the evolutionary unfoldment of the Earth in a hexagonal symbol (also with Saturn functioning at the center).
In Esoteric Astrology – by the same author – it becomes very clear that the planet Saturn has a deep and thorough connection with Earth’s struggle to join the ranks of becoming sacred in the so-called pecking order of advanced planetary bodies in our solar system. Saturn – along with Uranus and Neptune – exist as a kind of Holy Trinity or triumvirate of sacred planetary vibrations, with these three important energy spheres within our solar system ultimately synthesizing and resonating with the Sun.
It appears that the giant hexagon on Saturn may be a kind of beacon, omen or talisman* for Earthlings – something to remind us of our own sacred journey toward spiritual enlightenment as we simultaneously explore the physical solar system with our ingenious technological devices.
*Speaking of "talisman," check out this magical
talisman connected to the planet Saturn utilized by alchemists, astrologers and
metaphysically-oriented herbalists and shamans from hundreds of years ago.
The Cassini-Huygens Mission has been one of the most successful in the history of NASA, but it has actually been a celebrated achievement due to the efforts of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (AIS). And it was the ESA that designed the Huygens Probe which was released by the Cassini Spacecraft on December 25, 2004 and then descended through the thick atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon Titan on January 14, 2005 – to become the first ever craft to safely land on the surface of a celestial body in the outer solar system.
The Huygens Probe was named after the Dutch astronomer-mathematician-physicist Christiaan Huygens – who discovered Titan in the 1600s. Titan – larger than the planet Mercury – has a dense atmosphere (second only to Venus), and it wasn’t until January 14, 2005 that we were able to pierce through the cloud cover and see pictures of Titan’s amazing surface world (composed of a certain type of “sand” and influenced strongly by wind and erosion).
In an astounding example of cosmic synchronicity, when the Huygens Probe touched down on Titan on January 14, 2005, transiting Saturn – moving retrograde – was on its own Heliocentric North Node (23+ degrees of Cancer) in our zodiac while the Sun was almost exactly opposite at 24 degrees of Capricorn. Thus, as the first secrets of mysterious Titan were being revealed to an ecstatic group of astronomers and scientists around the world, in the heavens there was (a) a nearly precise Sun-Saturn polarity (which only happens on one day in a calendar year) and (b) Saturn was on its own orbital intersecting point with our zodiac (something that only occurs every 29.5 years).
In Astronomy magazine’s November 2010 edition – in a feature entitled Cassini’s Top 10 Saturn System Discoveries – the top two discoveries concern “Titan’s Earthlike Surface” and “Titan’s Methane Cycle.” A follow-up shorter feature in the current February 2011 edition of Astronomy suggests that life’s building blocks, in the form of complex organic molecules, are active in the thick atmosphere on that strange moon.
Titan is the only other body in the solar system that we know at the present time has lakes (like we do on Earth) – only Titan’s lakes are composed mostly of methane and ethane (the main components of natural gas on Earth). Titan’s atmosphere is mostly nitrogen (like Earth’s). Much of Titan apparently resembles what the Earth may have been like in its formative stages – billions of years ago – and this is a big reason why our scientists are so eager to explore its myriad of secrets.
With Cassini’s extended mission to 2017, the spacecraft, its cameras and data sensors will be able to make several dozen more flybys of Titan – adding to our understanding of this incredible celestial body.
There’s another moon orbiting Saturn (one of over 60) called Enceladus. It is a fairly small world only about 313 miles in diameter. It is extremely cold on its surface – possibly more than minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In both the November 2010 and February 2011 editions, Astronomy magazine offers insights about this very unusual moon.
Several years ago, the Cassini spacecraft (named after the Italian-French Astronomer Giovanni Cassini) took pictures of the southern polar region of Enceladus and found giant geysers of water vapor shooting out from the moon. Apparently, the water vapor – along with traces of carbon dioxide and ammonia – form one of Saturn’s rings (the E ring).
Sodium has been detected in the E ring and scientists are speculating that this might be coming from an ocean of water hidden beneath the icy crust of Enceladus.
It had puzzled researchers for several years how “salt water” could be erupting from such a cold world, but now they believe a kind of “tidal heating” is going on at Enceladus – due to its eccentric orbit around Saturn in addition to a wobble in its rotation.
The bottom line is that Enceladus (as well as Europa – one of Jupiter’s largest moons) will be on the short list for future missions to the two biggest planets in the solar system (Jupiter and Saturn). Europa – studied in other space missions – seems to be the likeliest place in the solar system where an ocean of water may be lurking below the surface and that could mean life existing elsewhere in our neighborhood in the Milky Way.
It is intriguing in this regard that when the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft first moved into its official orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004, the transiting Sun at 10 degrees of Cancer was approaching its annual union with transiting Saturn at 16 degrees of Cancer. Thus, both the Sun and Saturn were in the water sign of Cancer, and having the same orb apart (approximately 6 degrees) as when the launch happened on October 15, 1997 and the Sun and Saturn were approximately 6 degrees apart by opposition.
Thus, Saturn – a planet that astrologers have always
associated with the element of earth – may someday reveal secrets to us about
the element of water, which is the main reason we have life on Earth.
Extra Note Added on January 28, 2011: We have just experienced Saturn stopping from the Earth's vantage point on Tuesday evening Jan. 25 in Libra, and very close to the natal Saturn placement in America's birthchart from July 4, 1776. Saturn has much to do with leadership, executive authority, hard work and perseverance (when it is used favorably). President Obama gave his State of the Union address exactly on the night of Saturn being motionless -- and the main polls seem to indicate a strong and reasonably positive response by a good proportion of the American public.
Meanwhile, the United States is in the midst of its eighth "Saturn Return" cycle since its founding in 1776. Saturn made its first of three exact returns at 15 degrees of Libra -- in this current cycle -- in early December 2010, and Saturn will make two more precise returns March 22 - 23, 2011, and August 27 - 28, 2011.
Any Saturn Return -- for a nation, business or a person -- refers to an "Identity Crisis." When Saturn malfunctions, it can equate with a rise in chronic pain and disability, karmic retribution, pessimism, stagnation, delays, and deep-seated fears. On the economic front, the long-term woes of unemployment and under-employment are in keeping with the shadow side of Saturn being potent.
All things considered, we have to stay on alert in America for much of 2011 about the power of Saturn and its current cycle of return in Libra to our national chart. The more we eliminate ignorance, fear and pessimism by emphasizing knowledge, logic and common sense, the more we utilize the divine gifts of Saturn in the wisest manner.
Updated June 25, 2011: In the last few weeks, NASA has reported that a gigantic atmospheric storm – that began in Saturn’s Northern Hemisphere – has now spread throughout the entire planet. It has taken astronomers and researchers by surprise because Saturn’s atmosphere is normally calm. It is also the first time such an extreme anomaly has been witnessed at Saturn by our orbiting Cassini spacecraft. At the core of this disturbance is a “3,000-mile wide…dark vortex, possibly similar to Jupiter’s Giant Red Spot…” Considering that the USA and Egypt are both experiencing Saturn Return Identity-Crisis cycles right now – and that Saturn has just made another station in the sky in Libra to turn direct on June 12 – any dynamic and revolutionary happening on Saturn is worthy of humanity’s attention.
Capricorn New Moon chart for December 21, 2014: I have added this art-style wheel for the exact moment, in Washington, D.C. (our nation's capital) for this unusual New Moon that takes place just two and one-half hours after the sacred turning point of winter arrives for us in the North Hemisphere. Not only are the Sun and Moon barely into the final earth sign of the zodiac, but there are five other celestial bodies in Capricorn (reinforcing all of traditional themes) while Saturn itself is down below in the fourth house of roots-foundations in the last degree of intense-persevering Scorpio while the ancient cosmological-heavenly parents of Roman Mythology (Juno and Jupiter) are both rising in Leo, retrograde to assert their internalization into human consciousness.
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