Wallpaper Monday


Recently released by the Cassini lab: Titan silhouetted in front of its parent planet. For a little size perspective, Titan is larger than Mercury. Doesn’t it seem a bit off to you when a moon can be bigger than a planet? But then, everything about Saturn (and Jupiter, for that matter) is on a whole different scale.

The Cassini lab points out the blue tint at the north and south poles and explains:

As the seasons have changed in the Saturnian system, and spring has come to the north and autumn to the south, the azure blue in the northern Saturnian hemisphere that greeted Cassini upon its arrival in 2004 is now fading. The southern hemisphere, in its approach to winter, is taking on a bluish hue. This change is likely due to the reduced intensity of ultraviolet light and the haze it produces in the hemisphere approaching winter, and the increasing intensity of ultraviolet light and haze production in the hemisphere approaching summer. (The presence of the ring shadow in the winter hemisphere enhances this effect.) The reduction of haze and the consequent clearing of the atmosphere makes for a bluish hue: the increased opportunity for direct scattering of sunlight by the molecules in the air makes the sky blue, as on Earth. The presence of methane, which generally absorbs in the red part of the spectrum, in a now clearer atmosphere also enhances the blue.

Somehow I never thought of Saturn’s sky being blue. Or at least, parts of it.

Edited to add the link to the wallpaper-size version of the image. Can’t believe I forgot that. Click the image to Saturnize!)


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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4 Responses to Wallpaper Monday

  1. Jake says:

    I never knew there was a moon bigger then a planet. Interesting.

    • Lilaine says:

      I was a little surprised by how that sentence sounded: ‘a moon can be bigger than a planet’. Took me a few seconds to realize that it doesn’t mean its planet…(have not had my morning coffee, yet)… 🙂
      Actually, Titan, the moon of Saturn, is larger than Mercury, the smallest planet (not being a dwarf one) of the solar system.
      Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s moons is even larger than Titan! 😮
      Gives a whole new meaning to a lot of language expressions using ‘moon’ in various forms… 😀

  2. João Brandão says:

    so much to see out there, and here we are, stuck on 1 giant rock.

  3. xenatuba says:

    Great photo, and perspective. I have always been fascinated by Saturn…

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