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.)