Astronomy Picture of the Day: 09/19/13 – Saturn’s Rings, Titan, and a Haze

Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA


This is another charming image from Cassini, everyone’s favorite Saturn-orbiting probe. What you’re looking at is the closest thing we have to a Saturnian solar eclipse.


The centerpiece for this picture is the eclipse itself. Here, we can see Titan passing in front of the Sun to produce an interesting light show. The haze you see is caused as light from the sun is scattered in Titan’s thick atmosphere before being processed by Cassini. Also in sillouette against the Sun is the small moon Encelandus. If you look closely, you’ll also see a little haze around Enceladus. Geysers shooting out jets of ice into space cause this particular phenomenon. You cannot possibly look at this image for any length of time without noticing Saturn’s rings piercing into the field of view.


It’s interesting to note that the discovery of the ice geysers on Enceladus have lead many scientist to propose missions to travel to the small moon to search for signs for life. The mission and the proposals take on the same look and feel that missions to the better known moon of Jupiter, Europa, tend to have.

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