Space Weather News for Jan. 26, 2006

CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH SATURN: On Friday, Jan. 27th, Saturn will be at its closest to Earth for all of 2006. Even a small telescope will show the planet’s exquisite rings. Look for Saturn rising in the east at sunset (it looks like a bright yellow star) and soaring overhead at midnight. Bad weather on Friday? Don’t worry. Saturn will remain close to Earth for weeks to come. You’ll have many more chances to see the ringed planet at its best. Visit for details and a sky map.

BIG SUNSPOT: Sunspot 848 burst through the surface of the sun last week and quickly grew into a planet-sized behemoth. (Which planet? Coincidentally, Saturn.) Now it is falling apart. The rise and fall of this big ‘spot is shown in a movie on