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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Video: Saturn makes its own drama (with a little help)

Posted By Emily Lakdawalla

22-05-2012 17:43 CDT

Topics: Cassini, amateur image processing, podcasts and videos, Saturn's moons, Saturn, Saturn's rings

One of my favorite tricks with space images is to make what's essentially a digital flipbook -- I stack a bunch of images from a sequence and make them animate. It gives the illusion of motion and a sense of depth to the planets or moons in the pictures. I usually make them animate slowly enough (at rates of 2 to 10 frames per secon) that your eye has a chance to focus on each frame as an individual photo.

Not everybody does it that way, though. I've seen some pretty cool animations made with Cassini images where they were animated at something closer to 24 frames per second, the same speed as a regular movie. Things flash by too quickly for images to be analyzed as images, but the effect can be much more, well, moving. Here's a particularly nice example, produced by geology student Nahum Chazarra, with the transitions between images matched beautifully to the dramatic chords in the Moonlight Sonata.

This video was created using the images taken by Cassini probe of the Saturnian system since 2004.

NASA / JPL / SSI / video by Nahum Mendez Chazarra

None of these images was taken for its dramatic effect; Cassini imaging sequences long enough to produce even brief movie clips are designed for science and/or navigation.  The drama is natural, stemming from the ordered chaos of the relative motions of Saturn and its rings and its moons, and the stars behind them.

A tip of the hat to @DarkSapiens for the link to this one!

See other posts from May 2012


Read more blog entries about: Cassini, amateur image processing, podcasts and videos, Saturn's moons, Saturn, Saturn's rings


Craig C: 05/22/2012 07:17 CDT

That was fantastic, eight great years and still going

jelfving: 05/23/2012 08:18 CDT

Exciting! The fairly rough and aggressive interpretation of the music fits the theme of the animation well. (Moonlight at Saturn isn't as soft and romantic as here on Earth!)

ranjones: 05/24/2012 07:18 CDT

Whoa! My eyes are still swirling and bouncing!

Breath-taken: 05/28/2012 08:28 CDT

WOW! That was amazing. To me, Cassini rivals the mars rovers for sheer length and breadth of service. Stunning and moving, great pick Emily!

Leonidas: 05/28/2012 10:28 CDT

The jaw-dropping, mind-blowing awesomeness of the Universe! What more can I say?

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