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Cassini's Christmas Gift: In the Shadow of Saturn 32

Posted by Soulskill
from the cassini-is-the-best-thing dept.
astroengine writes "As the Cassini mission continues to orbit the ringed gas giant Saturn, it's hard to imagine what magnificent view the NASA spacecraft will show us next. Today, however, is one for the history books. As a very special Christmas holiday treat, the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) team have processed a magnificent view of Saturn that is rarely seen — a portrait from the dark side of the planet."
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Cassini's Christmas Gift: In the Shadow of Saturn

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  • It likes to regift dupe images?

  • by mcgrew (92797) *

    The first is firewalled off (they think discovery is an entertainment site) and the second is slashdotted. So here you fellows go, straight from NASA. [nasa.gov] I doubt we'll slashdot them... and submitter, why did you not link the source?

  • ...can anyone fix the ugly square crop of that blue haze below the saturn?

    i'd be a totally cool&costly wallpaper then :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ..to come up with the Acronyms for every occasion

  • by Hazelfield (1557317) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @05:29PM (#42331147)
    There's something about that picture that's hard for my brain to process. I get the backlit rings to the sides of the planet and the shadow the planet casts on its rings on the dark side, but where do the rings on the upper half of the planet come from and why do they seem offset from the other rings?
    • by chichilalescu (1647065) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @06:34PM (#42331735) Homepage Journal

      The camera is behind and "below" Saturn, and Saturn's rings are "tilted" towards the Sun (you can see this because the planet's shadow on the rings is curved; if the ring was parallel to the light rays, the shadow would have straight edges).
      The planet's back is lit by the rings: the upper part gets light reflected by the rings, and some diffused light, while the lower part only gets diffused light, that's why the upper part is better illuminated.
      The "black rings" that you can see over the upper part of the planet are just the back of the rings (i.e the part that's in Saturn's shadow). Because the planet is much better illuminated than this portion of the rings, you see them as black on colored background (they must receive some light from the back of the planet, but that's probably below the sensitivity threshold of the camera).
      They are "offset" because you only notice the portion between the camera and the planet; the rest of the shadowy part of the rings is dark on a dark background, so you can't see it.

      • They are "offset" because you only notice the portion between the camera and the planet; the rest of the shadowy part of the rings is dark on a dark background, so you can't see it.

        No, they are not "offset". They are simply inverse. Look again. Measure if you like with the elliptical path tool in your image editor of choice. The light parts in the lighted rings correspond to the dark parts in the darker rings -- More matter in light = lighter, more matter blocking light = darker; The rings against the planet block its light. The rest of what you said is spot on though.

    • by sighted (851500)

      Where do the rings on the upper half of the planet come from and why do they seem offset from the other rings?

      Let's see if I can clearly put this into words: Those are the rings passing in front of the dark side of the planet. They're translucent. The light reflected from the sun-illuminated part of the rings to either is reflecting off the cloud-tops on the night side of the planet, through the rings, to the camera.

    • The offset black rings is the planet background that is blocked from view by rings in darkness of the planet shadow. The black band matches up with the dense part of the rings in sunlight. You can see part of the planet in thinner parts of the rings. Other parts block your view completely.

      The photo appears to have been processed to darken the sunlit rings and greatly boost the dark side of the planet to make it visible by the reflected light off the rings.

    • Right click, rotate image, rotate 180 degrees.

      Puts the rings in the orientation your brain expects, then the shadow makes more sense.

      • Thanks everyone who helped, but especially this tip. For some reason (evolutionary biology?) it seems easier to understand an image where the sunlight comes from above. Now I got a better idea of what's going on. An amazing picture.
  • OK, in this story, "the dark side of Saturn" and "the far side of Saturn" are effectively equivalent.

    • "the dark side of Saturn" and "the far side of Saturn" are effectively equivalent.

      if ( Dark Side == Far Side ) Mind = Blown;
      For a moment there I thought I'd have to add one more viewing of Star Wars to the millions of billions of times I've seen it because I missed all the Gary Larson references.

  • No I really mean it this time, no joke, it does resemble Uranus from that side: green and smooth.

  • it's pretty awful.

Lo! Men have become the tool of their tools. -- Henry David Thoreau

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