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No. 40: Jul-Aug 1985

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Neptune's arcs: embryonic moons?

The publicity given to the 1984 observations of possible discontinuous rings around Neptune (SF#38) have brought to light two other enigmatic observations. The 1981 sighting of a "third satellite" of Neptune have now been interpreted as still another discontinuous ring at a different radius. A third discontinuous ring seems to be indicated by the reanalysis of some 1968 occultation data. Astronomer Bill Hibbard, at the University of Arizona, speculates that the three separate arcs of material orbiting Neptune are "trying to decide whether to become a satellite."

(Hecht, Jeff, and Henbest, Nigel; "Neptune's Arcs -- A Satellite in Formation?" New Scientist, p. 19, Apil 25, 1985.)

Comment. If the debris around Neptune is just now accreting into satellites and Saturn's rings really do have youthful features (SF#39), one has to consider some disquieting possibilities:

(1) Saturn and Neptune have been recently "disturbed," or (2) The entire solar system is not as old as the conventional scenario demands.

From Science Frontiers #40, JUL-AUG 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987