Daphne Stam (TU Delft), Markus Hartung (ESO, Chile), Mark Showalter (SETI) and Imke de Pater (UC Berkeley and TU Delft)
VLT image of Uranus Ring Plane Crossing
Chile's Very Large Telescope, operated by the European Southern Observatory, caught the rings of Uranus a mere two hours after Earth had crossed to the lit side of the ring plane. This false-color image, a composite of infrared images, was obtained by the NAOS-CONICA infrared camera at 9:00 UT on August 16, 2007.
With a ring opening of only 0.003°, the thin rings nearly disappear. At right, the region around the planet has been enhanced to show a thin line, which is sunlight glinting off the ring edges and reflected by dust clouds embedded within the system. The picture at left shows the planet and four of its largest moons. On the planet, banding in the atmosphere and a bright cloud feature near the planet's south polar collar are clearly visible.
Original image data dated on or about August 16, 2007