Monday, October 16, 2006

In the Shadow of Saturn

Explanation: In the shadow of Saturn, unexpected wonders appear. The robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn recently drifted in giant planet's shadow for about 12 hours and looked back toward the eclipsed Sun. Cassini saw a view unlike any other. First, the night side of Saturn is seen to be partly lit by light reflected from its own majestic ring system. Next, the rings themselves appear dark when silhouetted against Saturn, but quite bright when viewed away from Saturn and slightly scattering sunlight, in the above exaggerated color image. Saturn's rings light up so much that new rings were discovered, although they are hard to see in the above image. Visible in spectacular detail, however, is Saturn's E ring, the ring created by the newly discovered ice-fountains of the moon Enceladus, and the outermost ring visible above. Far in the distance, visible on the image left just above the bright main rings, is the almost ignorable pale blue dot of Earth.


Tommy said...

Awesome picture. I remember the first time I observed Saturn in my telescope. It looked soooooooo small, but I could clearly make out the rings.

Stardust said...

For xmas I'm asking Santa Claus for a decent high-powered telescope that I can actually see something with. I have a real cheap one that is very difficult to see very clearly.

Stardust said...

Hopefully "Santa" has read my above comment. ;)