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Uranus Ring Plane Crossing

Uranus Ring Plane Crossing

Mark Showalter and Mitch Gordon of the PDS Rings Node

Uranus Ring Plane Crossing
This graph shows how Earth's view of Uranus changes during the 2007-2008 ring plane crossing season. For decades, Earth's view has been of the southern hemisphere. But as Uranus approaches its equinox, Earth will briefly -- from May 2 to August 16 -- cross the ring plane to the shadowed side of the rings (gray part of the curve) and the northern hemisphere. Then Earth recrosses the ring plane on August 16. On December 7, Uranus reaches its equinox, and the Sun goes to the north side of the rings, leaving the southern side of the rings -- the side that Earth sees -- in shadow (again, gray part of the figure). Finally, on February 16, Earth recrosses to the north side of the ring plane, and the sunlit side of the rings, until the next equinox and ring plane crossing in 2049.

Original image data dated on or about February 16, 2008

Explore related images: planetary rings, Uranus' rings

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