The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

The Equinox at Saturn

I just got an email with the release of some unprocessed but spectacular images of Saturn’s rings at the equinox taken by the Cassini spacecraft. Once every 15 years (approximately) the Sun hits the rings exactly edge on. At this time, the rings almost completely disappear from view. Here is my favorite taken just hours after the equinox (and you can already see hints of the rings returining!)
Remember, this is an unprocessed raw image so you can see all kinds of junk in there.  I love this one since you really get a sense of how thin the rings are.  The rings are made up of small bits of icy rock the size of houses and smaller and are only about 100 feet thick.  You can actually see through them!  Look at the stars beneath the rings.  We normally don’t see them because the rings are too bright.  Make the rings dark, and you can see right through them.

Check out the other images as well.

August 13, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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