The Missing Moon

In 1815, Harvard College began to consider the erection of an observatory and W.C. Bond was sent to Europe to inspect the workings of similar institutions. Upon his return, he submitted his report and promptly established his own observatory at Dorchester in order to develop instruments and methods. When the Harvard College Observatory was completed in 1844 with a fine 15-inch refractor made in Germany by Merz-Mahler, Bond was appointed as its first director.

Noting that the distribution of Saturn's satellites followed a pattern reminiscent of the Titius-Bode progression, astronomers pondered the intriguing 'gap' between Titan and Iapetus. William Lassell, a wealthy brewer, had built a 24-inch reflector for his private observatory in Liverpool in England, and in 1846, several weeks after the planet Neptune had been discovered, he spotted a large satellite. Fired up with enthusiasm, he began to search for Saturn's 'missing' moon. On 16 September 1848 Bond, working with his son, G. P. Bond, noted a suspicious speck of light in the plane of the rings. Lassell also saw it two nights later. On 19 September they all confirmed that it was moving along with the planet. Once its 21-day 7-hour 28-minute orbit was calculated, it was found to orbit just beyond Titan. It was given the name Hyperion, but was so faint that John Herschel speculated that it might actually be one of several bodies moving around the planet in a sort of asteroid belt, although no such objects were evident.

The Lassell Ring

In 1837 J.F. Encke of the Berlin Observatory perceived a division in the 'A' ring.

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