Out on a Limb

 

Saturn's Skies
Saturn's Skies

This thin neon line is a look through the backlit sky of Saturn, as color-calibrated by Gordan Ugarkovic. This is a natural-color segment of a larger photo, seen here.

On September 15, 2006, Cassini captured one of the most breathtaking images of Saturn ever, during an eclipse event when Saturn was perfectly backlit by the sun. This gave us an unprecedented view of the rings, especially the hazy outermost E ring, which is fed by particles ejected from Enceladus’ ice geysers. It also showed us how we look from Saturn…Earth is visible as a pale dot on the inner edge of the F ring.

Gordan’s image above is of the upper edge of Saturn’s north pole. The glow of the E ring is barely visible in the background. His coloration is more true-to-life, as opposed to the over-saturated version from the press release. Another great piece of work, beautiful in its simplicity.

Image: NASA/JPL/SSI/Gordan Ugarkovic

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5 Comments

  1. Gordan says:

    I should add the pixel scale here is 12.5 km so the band of light you see is between 120-190 kilometers wide, depending on which part of the limb you look at.

    If this were closer in, you could have fooled me into thinking it’s an image of Earth sunset from the space shuttle.

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    1. J. Major says:

      For those non-scientific types (like me) who relate better to empirical units, that’s 75-118 miles thick. Still, an incredible – and deceptive – scale we’re looking at here.

      I just like the minimal composition of this image, and how the subtle background haze slowly becomes apparent. Very nice.

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      1. Gordan says:

        Well, in my part of the world, kilometer *is* empirical, everyday unit 😀

        I find myself with the opposite problem – converting NASA’s feet, miles (nautical, statute, yuck!), inches and pounds back to their respective SI equivalents. It’s amazing how much one depends on a unit system one’s accustomed to and is unable to grasp or visualize other units without converting them first.

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        1. J. Major says:

          I can barely grasp the distances even after I convert them.

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