Yes, Obi-Wan, That’s a Moon

Saturn’s 250-mile-wide icy moon Mimas shines in direct sunlight and reflected light from Saturn in this image, a composite of raw images acquired by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Jan. 30, 2017 and received on Earth today, Feb. 1. This is a bit of a “Frankenstein” job I made, assembled from five separate narrow-angle camera images taken in…

Watch Saturn’s Moons Race Inside the Rings

Round and round they go… the animation above, made from 14 raw images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on August 23, 2016, shows the moons Prometheus and Atlas orbiting Saturn within the Roche Division gap between its A (top right) and F (center) rings. The gravitational tug of Prometheus (92 miles / 148 km long) is strong…

A Fistful of Moons

This image from Cassini shows no less than five of Saturn’s moons in the same frame: Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across) is largest in the foreground; Dione (1,123 kilometers, or 698 miles across) can be seen just above the rings below Rhea near the center; Prometheus (86 kilometers, or 53 miles across) is just barely…

Multi Moons

    I can’t even begin to say how many moons Cassini captured in this raw image, taken yesterday October 6! I see Epimetheus and Janus and Pan and Daphnis (I think) and…Atlas?….and…and……..is that Tethys at the bottom? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that this is a whole lot of moons…

Moon Quartet

Four of Saturn’s 62 moons are seen passing each other in this animation, composed from 22 raw images taken by the Cassini spacecraft on July 27, 2010. Epimetheus, Prometheus, Janus and tiny Atlas all orbit Saturn within or near the ring system. As the animation begins, the potato-shaped Prometheus is just “rounding the bend” inside…

Peekaboo Moon

Here’s another color composite from Cassini, showing Rhea on the far side of the rings, its northern tip peeking through the Cassini Division. (I’m not 100% sure what smaller moon that is on the left, but my guess is either Janus or Epimetheus.) What I find interesting in this image is the bright streak within…

In Living Color

    I’ve been playing around with making color versions of images from the Cassini raw image downloads, now that I know what to look for it’s relatively easy to put together a somewhat “natural color” version of the sights around the Saturn system. (The image above was a little trickier, I had to take…

Frozen Cliffs

One of the newest raw images from Cassini’s latest flyby shows the icy terrain of Saturn’s moon Dione, with steep hills, ridges and the bright face of one of the many deep canyons that meander across its surface. Known as “wispy lines”, these canyon walls expose bright water ice (that makes up about a quarter…

Little Sister

111-mile-wide Janus passes in front of the face of her much larger sister Titan in this image from Cassini, taken on March 27. At 3,200 miles wide, Titan is one of the largest moons in the solar system, even larger than the planet Mercury. A thick atmosphere keeps its frigid and gloomy surface permanently hidden…

Rhea and the Rings

This is one of those sublime photos from Cassini that just make me smile. Taken on March 24, this raw image shows Rhea, Saturn’s second-largest moon, suspended in orbit in front of the twilight side of Saturn, its rings reduced to a thin ribbon of bands at this viewing angle. The width of the rings…

Moons Near and Far…and More to Come!

246-mile-wide Mimas (foreground) and 70-mile-wide Epimetheus bracket a section of Saturn’s rings in this color-calibrated image from the Cassini spacecraft, taken in October 2009. Happily, we can expect to see beautiful images like this for another  7 years…NASA has extended the Cassini mission until at least 2017! During that time Cassini will transition into its…

Saturn in the Spring

The Cassini Imaging Team has released this image, a stunning portrait of Saturn made from 75 separate wide-angle exposures taken during the ringed planet’s spring equinox on August 12, 2009. The specific angle of sunlight during the equinox makes the shadow of Saturn’s expansive rings appear as a pencil-thin line across the cloudtops at the…