Sunday, June 9, 2013
Cassini is probably best remembered for discovering the Cassini Division, a open space between Saturn's A and B rings. Before Cassini it was believed that the rings of Saturn were one large solid ring structure orbiting the planet. Cassini's observations of the rings showed that there were breaks between the rings. We know now that the rings of Saturn are not solid at all, but made up of orbiting pieces of ice and debris. Cassini was also responsible for identifying four of the moons orbiting Saturn: Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys, and Dione. Cassini also shares credit for discovering the red spot on Jupiter with English scientist Robert Hooke Although Cassini initially believed in a geocentric model for the solar system he eventually came to believe in a solarcentric model, similar to that proposed by Nicolas Copernicus.
In addition to craters on the moon and Mars named after him Cassini also has an asteroid named after him. Additionally NASA's unmanned probe that is currently exploring Saturn and its moons is named after him (for more information on the Cassini probe see here).
As he grew older Cassini's vision failed him and his son Jacques began to run the Paris Observatory. Cassini died on December 14, 1712.
Connor, Elizabeth; "The Cassini Family and the Paris Observatory"; Astronomical Society of the Pacific Leaflets (1947)218:146-153
O'Connor, J.J. and Robertson, E.F.; "Giovanni Domenico Cassini"; Retrieved from: history.mcs.st-anderews.ac.uk
Giovanni Domenicao Cassini Wikipedia Entry