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Thread: The Day and Night cycle of a moon

  1. #1 The Day and Night cycle of a moon 
    Forum Freshman Martian_Monkey's Avatar
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    Hello everyone. I realize that my question is very broad and has many variables to consider when answering it so for the sake of my question, lets use Titan as a model.

    What is the day and night cycle like for Titan? Is it as regular and stable as ours? Obviously, Titan and all known moons are tidally locked so is Titan far enough away from Saturn that the sun will not be completely blocked when Saturn is directly in between the sun and Titan? And are the rings of Saturn and Saturn its self reflective enough that they would make it day light on their own?

    Thanks for any information.


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  3. #2 Re: The Day and Night cycle of a moon 
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martian_Monkey
    Hello everyone. I realize that my question is very broad and has many variables to consider when answering it so for the sake of my question, lets use Titan as a model.

    What is the day and night cycle like for Titan? Is it as regular and stable as ours?
    Its just a little less than 16 days ( the same as its the synodic period of its orbit around Saturn.)
    Obviously, Titan and all known moons are tidally locked so is Titan far enough away from Saturn that the sun will not be completely blocked when Saturn is directly in between the sun and Titan?
    Saturn's axis is tilted by about 26° and Titan orbits pretty close to Saturn's equatorial plane, so this will not happen often. However, when is does, Saturn has an angular size of 3° as seen from Titan (about 6 times the size of the Moon as seen from Earth.), So when they line up, Saturn is more than large enough to cover the Sun.
    And are the rings of Saturn and Saturn its self reflective enough that they would make it day light on their own?

    With the relative distance from the Sun, angular size and reflectiveness, "Saturn light" on Titan would be ~1.5 time as bright as moonlight is on Earth. Since the rings and Titan orbit in almost exactly the same plane, they would be edge on as seen from Titan and not contribute any light.



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  4. #3  
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    I imagine the sun would be eclipsed by the rings quite often.

    Of course you'd only see the sun from orbit. It's hazy enough to block the sun most of the time from the surface--you probably don't get much better than a bright spot in the brown sky.
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  5. #4  
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    I imagine the sun would be eclipsed by the rings quite often.
    Again, Titan and the rings are in the same orbital plane and so you could only see the rings edge on from Titan, and they are too thin to block the Sun as seen from Titan.
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    Forum Freshman Martian_Monkey's Avatar
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    I guess what I am really concerned with is the side of the moon that always faces the planet. The other faces of the moon are straightforward enough as the each face the sun directly at different points in their orbit around the planet. So when so they should never be blocked by the planet its self. so when they are facing the sun, it is light, when they are not, it is dark. So take Titan's atmosphere out of the equation as I am just using Titan as a model to satisfy the varables needed to answer the question.

    I guess I am trying to figure out.... if we were to build a base on the side of Titan that always faces Saturn, what would the day and night cycle be like in that part of the moon?
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  7. #6  
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martian_Monkey
    I guess what I am really concerned with is the side of the moon that always faces the planet. The other faces of the moon are straightforward enough as the each face the sun directly at different points in their orbit around the planet. So when so they should never be blocked by the planet its self. so when they are facing the sun, it is light, when they are not, it is dark. So take Titan's atmosphere out of the equation as I am just using Titan as a model to satisfy the varables needed to answer the question.

    I guess I am trying to figure out.... if we were to build a base on the side of Titan that always faces Saturn, what would the day and night cycle be like in that part of the moon?
    As I stated in my earlier post , the inclination of Titan's orbit is ~28 degrees. This means that for the majority of the time, the Sun will pass "above" or "below" Saturn as seen from Titan. The only time there is a chance for the sun to be blocked by Saturn is when they both are near a node( the point where Titan's orbit and the ecliptic cross. This will happen for roughly 2 mo. every 1/2 of Saturn's orbit around the Sun (29.5 years) So once every 19.75 years, for about 2 months Saturn can block the Sun as seen from Titan. Each eclipse can last for at most 3 /13 hrs. And there can be up to 4 eclipses during each 2 month period.
    "Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feelings for the strength of their argument.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Freshman Martian_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janus
    As I stated in my earlier post , the inclination of Titan's orbit is ~28 degrees. This means that for the majority of the time, the Sun will pass "above" or "below" Saturn as seen from Titan. The only time there is a chance for the sun to be blocked by Saturn is when they both are near a node( the point where Titan's orbit and the ecliptic cross. This will happen for roughly 2 mo. every 1/2 of Saturn's orbit around the Sun (29.5 years) So once every 19.75 years, for about 2 months Saturn can block the Sun as seen from Titan. Each eclipse can last for at most 3 /13 hrs. And there can be up to 4 eclipses during each 2 month period.
    Thank you,

    That clarifies things a bit better.
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