Astronomy Picture of the Week – Northern Summer on Titan

Another one from Cassini’s Grand Finale. And yeah, I’m a day late.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sees bright methane clouds drifting in the summer skies of Saturn’s moon Titan, along with dark hydrocarbon lakes and seas clustered around the north pole.

Compared to earlier in Cassini’s mission, most of the surface in the moon’s northern high latitudes is now illuminated by the sun. (See here for a view of the northern hemisphere from 2007.) Summer solstice in the Saturn system occurred on May 24, 2017.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 9, 2017, using a spectral filter that preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 938 nanometers. Cassini obtained the view at a distance of about 315,000 miles (507,000 kilometers) from Titan.

As usual, click on the image for the .tif download…

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Astronomy Picture of the Week: Mimas Dwarfed

We continue with images from Cassini’s Grand Finale. This time, it’s an image from over Saturn’s north pole, with a teeny tiny dot, Mimas, in the upper right

From high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gazes over the planet’s north pole, with its intriguing hexagon and bullseye-like central vortex.

Saturn’s moon Mimas is visible as a mere speck near upper right. At 246 miles (396 kilometers across) across, Mimas is considered a medium-sized moon. It is large enough for its own gravity to have made it round, but isn’t one of the really large moons in our solar system, like Titan. Even enormous Titan is tiny beside the mighty gas giant Saturn.

This view looks toward Saturn from the sunlit side of the rings, from about 27 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on March 27, 2017.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 617,000 miles (993,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 37 miles (59 kilometers) per pixel. Mimas’ brightness has been enhanced by a factor of 3 in this image to make it easier to see.

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Astronomy Picture of the Week: The Keeler Gap

Another one from Cassini’s Grand Finale mission

Here’s the text from the photo page; the image is below the fold (and, as usual, you can click on it for the tiff download)…

Before Cassini entered its Grand Finale orbits, it acquired unprecedented views of the outer edges of the main ring system. For example, this close-up view of the Keeler Gap, which is near the outer edge of Saturn’s main rings, shows in great detail just how much the moon Daphnis affects the edges of the gap.

This image was part of a mosaic that included Daphnis (The Realm of Daphnis).

Daphnis creates waves in the edges of the gap through its gravitational influence. Some clumping of ring particles can be seen in the perturbed edge, similar to what was seen on the edges of the Encke Gap back when Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 3 degrees above the ring plane. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 18,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) from Daphnis and at a Sun-Daphnis-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 69 degrees. Image scale is 581 feet (177 meters) per pixel. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 16, 2017.

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Self Care – Astronomy Picture of the Week: Propeller Belts of Saturn

I’m still pulling from Cassini’s Grand Finale mission. Is it at all strange that I’m so sad about this? I don’t want to say I feel like I’ve built some kind of bond or something with Cassini. It’s just that Saturn’s always been my favorite planet, and for as long as I’ve been interested, Cassini’s been our window to it.

And now, Cassini’s incredible life is coming to an end. And I’m sad about that.

But anyways…

Cassini shot this amazing, extremely sharp image of some features in Saturn’s A ring called propeller belts. As always, click on the image for the tiff download…

Also, I’m putting this one below the fold…

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Self Care – Astronomy [Video] of the Week: Cassini’s Grand Finale

This, to be honest, is really sad for me.

Saturn has always been my favorite planet, so Cassini holds a very special place in my heart. I love Cassini. I follow it on Twitter, and follow updates very closely. Cassini has been in space for 20 years, and at Saturn 13 years. It’s been an amazing run, with so many incredible findings about Saturn and it’s wondrous and fascinating moons.

But time is running out. Cassini is running out of fuel. So NASA has planned a Grand Finale. An epic, bittersweet grand finale.

First, Cassini will dive between Saturn and it’s rings. It’s already done that once, on April 26. And it’s geared up to do it 21 more times.

Then, on September 15, Cassini will… um…

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Astronomy Picture of the Week – In Saturn’s Shadow

Time for a new series!!!!! Astronomy Picture of the Week!!!!

Totes original, right? I’m… like… the first person to ever think of doing this!

But seriously… I’m not an astronomer, but I’m addicted to the universe. Whether presented in false color or true color, the images sent back to us by our satellites and telescopes are wonders to behold. And I have to start with this…

This image, In Saturn’s Shadow, is why Saturn is my favorite planet… it’s simply beautiful.

Saturn Eclipses the Sun

In Saturn’s Shadow

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