Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Six Moons of Saturn
Posted on 04/13/2012 10:46:07 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Explanation: How many moons does Saturn have? So far 62 have been discovered, the smallest only a fraction of a kilometer across. Six of its largest satellites can be seen here, though, in a sharp Saturnian family portrait taken on March 9. Larger than Earth's Moon and even slightly larger than Mercury, Titan has a diameter of 5,150 kilometers and starts the line-up at the lower left. Continuing to the right across the frame are Mimas, Tethys, [Saturn], Enceladus, Dione, and Rhea at far right. Saturn's first known natural satellite, Titan was discovered in 1655 by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, while most recently the satellite provisionally designated S/2009 S1 was found by the Cassini Imaging Science Team in 2009. Tonight, Saturn reaches opposition in planet Earth's sky, offering the best telescopic views of the ringed planet and moons.
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[Credit & Copyright: Rafael Defavari]
Given that the orbit of each of these moons lies very close to the plane of Saturn’s rings, can you discern their position in space at the time of the image?
( The orbit of Mimas has an inclination of 1.56 degrees, the other orbits have inclinations less than 1/2 degree. )
I’ve seen that in a telescope.
I’ve also froze outside in the middle of the night because I couldn’t stop looking.
It’s just stunningly beautiful.
If you haven’t actually seen it, get a telescope, or look up a star party near you when Saturn is visible, and go have a look for yourself. Bring your family and friends. You’ll never forget it!
In 2015 we’ll be getting pics of Pluto. The New Horizons probe is well under 10 AU out from the planet now. (9.49 AU)
Ha Ha! I HEAR You!
Now I get it. It looks like Titan is in the foreground, but it's not. The image is shot sort of looking up toward Saturn.
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