Saturn’s Dark Side

Saturn NASA Cassini

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which has been in orbit around Saturn for more than eight years, has delivered a rare backlit view of the planet and its rings.

The image was taken in October 2012 during Cassini’s 174th orbit around the gas giant when it was deliberately positioned within Saturn’s shadow.

On Oct. 17, 2012, during its 174th orbit around the gas giant, Cassini was deliberately positioned within Saturn’s shadow, a perfect location from which to look in the direction of the sun and take a backlit view of the rings and the dark side of the planet. Looking back towards the sun is a geometry referred to by planetary scientists as “high solar phase;” near the center of your target’s shadow is the highest phase possible. This is a very scientifically advantageous and coveted viewing position, as it can reveal details about both the rings and atmosphere that cannot be seen in lower solar phase.

See a larger image at NASA’s website.

Saturn fly-by video

Created from thousands of high-resolution photographs taken by the Cassini orbiter, there is no 3D CGI involved in this video. There’s a black and white version first, followed by a full-frame, full-color video beginning around the 1:00 mark.

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