Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cassini Spacecraft Crosses Saturn's Ring Plane
Posted on 02/23/2014 7:47:33 PM PST by SunkenCiv
Explanation: If this is Saturn, where are the rings? When Saturn's "appendages" disappeared in 1612, Galileo did not understand why. Later that century, it became understood that Saturn's unusual protrusions were rings and that when the Earth crosses the ring plane, the edge-on rings will appear to disappear. This is because Saturn's rings are confined to a plane many times thinner, in proportion, than a razor blade. In modern times, the robot Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn now also crosses Saturn's ring plane. A series of plane crossing images from 2005 February was dug out of the vast online Cassini raw image archive by interested Spanish amateur Fernando Garcia Navarro. Pictured above, digitally cropped and set in representative colors, is the striking result. Saturn's thin ring plane appears in blue, bands and clouds in Saturn's upper atmosphere appear in gold. Details of Saturn's rings can be seen in the high dark shadows across the top of this image, taken back in 2005. Moons appear as bumps in the rings.
(Excerpt) Read more at 184.108.40.206 ...
[Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA]
I am just a bit miffed that on my Celestia program Jupiter is just a solid gray disk.... argh
Always interesting to see how dreary the gas giants really look when they aren’t shown in false color.
The surfaces are continuously in motion, which is lost in still photography.
Nice pic. I don’t know how Celestia managed not to give Jupiter a bit of color.
I’ve been waiting for you to post this. I saw the picture earlier today and it prompted a question.
Why is it that the plane of the rings appears to be at an angle to the rotation of the features on the planet ?
There is also something called KStars whatever that is
I looked closely at the picture again and now see that the ‘rotation feature’ was not the atmospheric rotation, but the shadow of the rings on the upper half of the planet.
The first time I saw the picture, I was using a notepad and those screens are pretty small.
I went to the site and the words ‘razor blade’ are a link. I thought it would take me to a picture of the side of the rings being so utterly thin...it took me to a picture of a Gillette mach 3 razor. (Wiki)
Ah, but boy, Saturn is lovely. Those rings are like a delicate skirt floating airly about her.
You can see the disk of Jupiter with binoculars, and it’s fairly large with a small telescope, but there’s no hint of color, and you can barely see the variation of brightness in the bands and the Great Red Spot. Take a look for yourself!
Now if you were close to one of them, in a spacecraft say, I don’t know how they might appear, but I think they would just be overwhelmingly bright.
That looks like the most beautiful marble I’ve ever seen.
buffer overflow...buffer overflow... buffer overflow.
(Thanks for the links)
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