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Emily LakdawallaMay 22, 2012

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

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!

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

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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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