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…

Bend It Like Saturn

The lines of Saturn’s rings appear to get sharply bent as their reflected light passes through the upper atmosphere of the planet before being captured by Cassini’s camera in this raw image, acquired on June 9, 2016. Enormous Saturn of course is, by volume, nearly all atmosphere with a solid core only about the size…

What’s Ahead for Cassini?

If you’ve been a faithful reader of Lights in the Dark over the past five years you know that I just love Cassini (and you probably do too!) In orbit around Saturn since 2004, Cassini has taken us on an intimate tour of the Saturnian system for a decade now, revealing the incredible beauty of the…

This is How Saturn’s Rings Would Look to a Butterfly

You don’t typically see Saturn’s rings looking like this, but then you can’t see in ultraviolet like Cassini (or many insects) can! The image above was acquired by the UVIS (UltraViolet Imaging Spectrograph) instrument aboard the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft on June 30, 2004, just as it was entering orbit around Saturn. The area shown here is…

Saturn’s Still in the Business of Making Moons

Congratulations! It’s a baby… moon? A bright clump spotted orbiting Saturn at the outermost edge of its A ring may be a brand new moon in the process of being born, according to research recently published in the journal Icarus. “We have not seen anything like this before,” said Carl Murray of Queen Mary University…

Rings Discovered Around an Asteroid

We all know that Saturn is encircled by a system of rings, and perhaps you also know about the fainter rings around Uranus, Jupiter, and Neptune. But today, ESO astronomers have revealed a surprising discovery: there are also rings surrounding the asteroid 10199 Chariklo, a small, distant world orbiting the Sun far beyond Saturn. This makes 250-km-wide Chariklo the fifth…

OMG Saturn.

Go get some extra socks handy because this new image of Saturn is going to knock ’em clean off your feet. Seen in eclipse against the light of the Sun, Saturn and its rings seem to glow with a magical light in this picture, painstakingly assembled from 141 separate wide-angle images taken by the Cassini spacecraft…

You Could Never See Saturn Like This

…not without a spaceship, anyway. But Cassini can — and did — on October 10, 2013 (mostly because it IS a spaceship) and thanks to the image-editing skills of Gordan Ugarkovic you too can enjoy the incredible view!

Ring Shadows Surround Saturn’s South

Cassini gets a great look at Saturn’s southern half in this color-composite, assembled from raw images acquired on July 13, 2013. Click for a larger view in my Flickr stream (the original raw images were only 1024 px, so it’s still a little grainy.) I adjusted the channel histograms quite a bit to achieve a…