Shadow Facts


Cast Shadow

Cast Shadow

A moon’s shadow falls upon ring after ring in this image, taken on April 29 by Cassini. 

Varying brightnesses and compositions of ring segments scatter light differently, as shown above. With Saturn’s spring equinox (August 11) getting closer every day, the ringplane – and orbital plane of many of its moons – are approaching a perpendicular position to that of Saturn’s orbital plane. This makes the shadows cast by the moons nearest the rings fall upon the icy dust particles of the rings themselves, offering Cassini – and us – another look at their varied compositions.

Through the Shadow

Click to play...

The image above is one frame of the animation at right. Here we can see the moon’s shadow – most likely from Epimetheus or Tethys – traversing many ringlets, and in the latter frames actually disappearing in what seems to be thicker (or higher?) ring segments. More info from the Cassini team is needed to explain exactly the process that is seen here…these images are raw data, and not yet calibrated or validated. They won’t be entered into NASA’s Planetary Data System until 2010. Still, they’re a first look at the most recent photos taken by the Cassini orbiter. In many cases seen here the day the data is received on Earth. Stay tuned, folks.

Raw image credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. GIF animation: J. Major.


About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on April 30, 2009, in Saturn and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I think this picture is cool but when I did some reseach it says that this pic is totally untrue. ): but…… I still love the pic!


  2. so if this is about shadows why is this a moon and space in the page that WE ARE TALKING ON this is so dumb and by the way this is shawwonna bakkersonne


    • There are lots of shadows in space, and this one is cast by a moon. Plus it’s a literary pun, a play on the word “Shadowfax” which was the name of Gandalf’s white horse in Lord of the Rings. Sorry if it caused you undue concern.


  3. i love this picture and i think its totaly true and dont understand why you think its not true!


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