Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 73: Jan-Feb 1991

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Saturn's latest burp

In late September, 1990, a large white spot appeared on Saturn. Soon, this blemish spread into an oval 21,000 kilometers in length. By early November, it had developed into a planet-encircling band. Apparently, Saturn had "burped," expelling hot gases from its interior. [Saturn emits 50% more heat than it absorbs from the sun.] So far, this is not too beguiling to the anomalist. But now it seems that other white spots, not as large, have been recorded in 1876, 1903, 1933, and 1960. Could the white-spot phenomenon be periodic--like a percolator? More food for thought is found in Saturn's orbital period around the sun: 29.4 years -- not too different from the potential "burp" cycle! (Anonymous; "New White Spot on Saturn Grows, Changes," Science News, 138:325, 1990. Also: Brown, William; "Giant Bubble of Gas Rises through Saturn's Atmosphere," New Scientist, p. 22, October 20, 1990.)

Reference. Historical observations of white spots on Saturn are covered in our handbook: Mysterious Universe. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #73, JAN-FEB 1991. 1991-2000 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