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Incredible opportunity to take possibly the most stunning photograph in the Solar System

Just when you thought you saw Saturn's rings often enough in photographs, and it's all pretty familiar - along comes the picture that re-awakens your sense of wonder and renews interest in this gaseous giant and "his fashionable head-wear". Take a good look at the picture below, and make sure that you enlarge it.

Astronomy, Aviation

Astronomy, Aviation

Few sights in the solar system are more strikingly beautiful than softly hued Saturn embraced by the shadows of its stately rings. The Cassini Orbiter on its mission in deep space caught this rare occasion of Saturn eclipsing the Sun.

"With giant Saturn hanging in the blackness and sheltering Cassini from the sun's blinding glare, the spacecraft viewed the rings as never before, revealing previously unknown faint rings and even glimpsing its home world." (official Cassini site)

Astronomy, Aviation

This marvelous panoramic view was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006. The mosaic images were acquired as the spacecraft drifted in the darkness of Saturn's shadow for about 12 hours, allowing a multitude of unique observations of the microscopic particles that compose Saturn's faint rings.

Earth - a pale blue orb

As Saturn continues to eclipse the Sun, and Cassini passes in its shadow, many otherwise obscured details become visible, for example:

Astronomy, Aviation

Cassini casts powerful eyes on our home planet, and captures Earth, a pale blue orb -- and a faint suggestion of our moon -- among the glories of the Saturn system. You can certainly marvel at how small and yet endearing our home planet looks. By the way, there is another famous image of Earth as a pale dot - view it here

Carl Sagan was quite moved by this image:
"If you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives... The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.... To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

Ghostly Fingers of Enceladus

Astronomy, Aviation

This astonishing, never-before-seen wisp structure around Saturn's moon Enceladus is also made visible with the sun almost directly behind the Saturn system from Cassini's vantage point.

Earth no longer holds the distinction of being our solar system's only "water world". as several other bodies suggest the possibility that they too harbor liquid water beneath their surfaces. The Saturnian moon, Enceladus, is among them, and is captured in this image, with its plume of water ice particles and swathed in the blue ring which it creates. Delicate fingers of material extend from the active moon into the ring.

Panoramic Rings
( or "Lord of the Rings: Where the shadow lies")

Saturn's most prominent feature, its dazzling ring system, takes center stage in this stunning natural color mosaic which reveals the color and diversity present in this wonder of the solar system. Gaps, gravitational resonances and wave patterns are all present, and the delicate color variations across the system are clearly visible.
(click to enlarge)

Astronomy, Aviation

The rings are awash in subtle tones of gold and cream in this view:

Astronomy, Aviation

Sources: NASA via Aldragon

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Anonymous koshka said...

These pictures are absolutely amazing. It's hard to believe they're real... or that this is our solar system (with itty bitty Earth peeking out).

Anonymous lukenowac1 said...

Whoa what a view

Anonymous jopez666 said...

This is the most amazing photo of another world ever. My jaw dropped when I saw it.

Anonymous lacrimosa said...

wow, pretty spectacular alright, and here I thought the most spectacular view in the solar system were female curves......jus' kiddin, nice post

Anonymous lacrimosa said...

I'd like to add that you should go to the Cassini web site and have a look at some of the raw photos that haven't been "painted" for the press. I don't know what I was expecting but really the black and white raw images of saturn are just as moving as these nice color prints....the raw images gave me such a strong feeling of deep space kinda cold loneliness that i actually made one into a poster

Anonymous Arnauld Perronian said...

Too bad that earth is not rounded by particles like Saturn, the view is amazing...


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