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The "dark side" of Saturn

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NASA / JPL / SSI / Gordan Ugarkovic

The "dark side" of Saturn
This approximate true color view of the night side of Saturn was captured by Cassini on May 19, 2007. It shows how Saturn's night side is brightly illuminated by reflected light from Saturn's rings.

Sunlight is incident on the south (bottom) side of the rings, so the strongest illumination from ringshine is on the southern hemisphere of Saturn. The reflection goes to a minimum near the equator, where the effective area of the rings goes to zero (because they are so thin). There is also weaker ringshine lightening the northern hemisphere night side because the rings are partially transparent; light there has been scattered through the rings and bounces northward to Saturn. At the extreme left of the image daylight is illuminating Saturn's globe, and the rings casting shadows onto its blue northern hemisphere. Three moons are visible in this view: clockwise from the top, they are Enceladus, Epimetheus, and Mimas.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. For uses not allowed by that license, contact us to request publication permission from the copyright holder: Gordan Ugarkovic

Original image data dated on or about May 19, 2007

Explore related images: pretty pictures, Cassini, amateur image processing, Saturn, Saturn's rings

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