Saturn’s expansive rings cast but a thin line of a shadow across its equator in this beautiful high-angle view taken by Cassini on July 18, 2009.
The rings, normally overexposed in images to make them more visible, are instead underexposed here so some of the details of Saturn’s atmosphere can be seen. Intricate banding of the cloud structures are visible, especially toward the north polar region.
The transparency of the rings is evident to the bottom right, where the rings overlap the sunlit part of Saturn.
As its spring equinox gets closer and closer – on August 11 – the shadow of the rings with get even thinner across the cloudtops of the second-largest world in our solar system.
Raw image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute