Wallpaper Monday

saturn eclipse

Yesterday’s Astronomy Picture of the Day was spectacular! Cassini took it while hanging out in the shadow of Saturn for 12 hours in 2006, and gave us a view that astronomers even a decade ago could only fantasize about.

As APOD notes, one of the significant aspects of this image is the proof that Saturn’s night side is partially illuminated by reflected light from its own rings. Out where the rings are receiving direct sunlight, they scatter light so much (and thus shine so brightly) that they not only light up the planet, but also enabled the discovery of new rings.

In addition, this view enables the famous E ring — the diffuse, outermost ring — to be seen in gorgeous detail. As we now know, this ring was formed by the ice geysers on the moon Enceladus.

Some of Saturn’s moons are visible in and around its rings, but the tiny dot to the left, just above the outermost edge of the brightly shining main rings, is no moon. It’s us.

(Click the image to Saturnize.)

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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5 Responses to Wallpaper Monday

  1. Lilaine says:

    Great Shot, Cassini !
    A tiny dot, indeed… 😉

    Thanks, Pal, for broadening our little horizon to the vast infinity up and around there 😀

    • Lilaine says:

      I’ve set it as current wallpaper on my Netbook, and I’ve been watching it under several angles : stunning !
      And as I was tilting the screen back, then forth, I did it again, back and forth, and again : it looked as if life/light was pulsating and glowing from Saturn. I’m sure it would be a great video if somebody’s up to make it !

    • Lilaine says:

      Well, did it myself, not really good, you’re welcome to try and do it better 😉

  2. Jbrandao says:

    Have you ever seen this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT2sQ7KIQ-E

    It’s a rendition of what earth would look like if it had rings like Saturn. It has images from Earth looking up to a ringed sky. Conclusion: It would be amazing.

  3. oregon expat says:

    Lilaine: I see what you mean. The things geeky people get hooked on…

    Jbrandao: That was cool! I agree with your conclusion.

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