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Emily LakdawallaJune 29, 2010

Saturn's hexagon is not unique

Remember when I posted those cool videos from lab experiments that replicated Saturn's hexagon? It turns out that Saturn's not the only place that displays geometrical shapes in its atmosphere. Earth does too. The kinds of wind velocity gradients that may have created Saturn's hexagon exist here as well. Here's a satellite photo of Hurricane Isabel with a pentagon (or maybe a pentacle!) for an eye.

Hurricane Isabel's pentagonal eye
Hurricane Isabel's pentagonal eye
Hurricane Isabel slammed into the American eastern seaboard in mid-September 2003. This satellite view shows its eyewall containing five vortices, setting up a pentagonal shape.

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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