Saturn at Equinox
How would Saturn look if its ring plane pointed right at the Sun? Before August of 2009 nobody knew. Every 15 years, as seen from Earth, Saturn’s rings point toward the Earth and appear to disappear. The disappearing rings are no longer a mystery — Saturn’s rings are known to be so thin and the Earth is so near the Sun that when the rings point toward the Sun, they also point nearly edge-on at the Earth. Fortunately, in this third millennium, humanity is advanced enough to have a spacecraft that can see the rings during equinox from the side. The Saturn-orbiting spacecraft, Cassini, was able to snap a series of unprecedented pictures of Saturn’s rings during equinox. A digital composite of 75 such images is shown above. The rings appear unusually dark, and a very thin ring shadow line can be made out on Saturn’s cloud-tops. Objects sticking out of the ring plane are brightly illuminated and cast long shadows. Inspection of these images may help humanity understand the specific sizes of Saturn’s ring particles and the general dynamics of orbital motion.
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA
Astronomy Photo of the Day (APotD): 9/27/14 — Zeta Ophiuchi
If you needed proof that one, solitary star can make waves, look no further than Zeta Ophiuchi: a runaway star situated about 460 light-years from Earth in the Ophiuchus constellation. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/1mAOSrV
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
|me:||[gently touches the sleeping cat]|
|cat:||[makes a tiny cat noise]|
|me:||ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh nooooooooooooooooooooooooo ohh noo ohhhhh nooooooo oh no oh nooooo oh my god oh noooo|
The Pinwheel Galaxy (M33)
Messier 83 is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra. It is one of the closest and brightest barred spiral galaxies in the sky, making it visible with binoculars.
Credit: Navaneeth Unnikrishnan