Dawn’s Light

Daybreak From Above
Daybreak From Above

The light of daybreak illuminates Saturn’s northern hemisphere and ring system in this dramatic image taken on March 20 by the Cassini spacecraft.

From Saturn outward (lower right to upper left) the C, B, A, and thin F rings are visible. The B and A rings are separated by a darker band of thing rings known as the Cassini division, after Italian-born astronomer Giovanni Cassini who first identified the gap in 1676. Some spiraling clouds can be seen in the northern atmosphere, and at upper left, almost touching the near edge of the F ring is 53-mile-wide Prometheus as it travels along its shepherding orbit, skipping in and out of the F ring like a stone across a pond. Its perturbations can be seen behind it spaced along the F ring at regular intervals.

Cassini was approximately 552,000 miles away from Saturn when this photo was taken.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute