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Four Moons in One Frame

With bonus rings.

Another great picture from the Cassini Probe, taken from Astronomy Picture of the Day for 4/4/2021.

Four Saturnian Moons

The most obvious moon is the bright Dione, hovering on the centre of the frame, with shadowy but much larger Titan in the background. Titan is the tenth largest object in the Solar System bigger than the planet Mercury.

To the extreme right of the rings is Pandora, a moon which shepherds Saturn’s F ring.

Just in the gap in the rings (the Encke gap) is Pan, only 35 kilometres across but which keeps the gap free of ring particles.

The Hidden Face of Titan

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 9/1/21 here is a view of Saturn’s moon Tiatn that you would never see if you were somehow be able to be on Saturn itself.

Titan is tide-locked to its primary and so always presents the same face to it. Its reverse side however was however visible to the Cassini probe.

Since Titan has an atmosphere its surface is not seen directly but the fuzziness around its edges – seen against the thick line of Saturn’s rings and the planet itself beyond – shows the atmosphere’s thickness relative to the satellite.

Titan from Cassini

Titan’s Lakes

A movie showing liquid on the surface of a world other than Earth?

Yes indeed. This is Saturn’s moon Titan and its methane/ethane lakes in a digital compilation of still radar images from NASA’s Cassinni satellite. The liquid is deep blue, the higher land tan coloured.

The video featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day on 24/11/14.

Titan and Dione

Another fantastic photo from Astronomy Picture of the Day (5/1/12) taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

This clearly shows that the moons orbit in the same plane as Saturn’s rings (whose shadows are cast on the main planet in the background.) In this view the two moons are 900,000 kiolmetres apart from each other, Dione nearer to Saturn, with the edge of the rings another 300,000 kilometres beyond Dione.

Also obvious is Titan’s atmosphere which makes its edges appear fuzzy.

Titan and Dione

4 Saturnian Moons

Astronomy Picture of the Day for 26/10/11 was this stunning view of four of Saturn’s moons, one (Dione) pictured in relief against the background of another (Titan.)

Saturn’s rings jut into the picture and the shepherd moon, Pandora, can be seen as an extended bright blur beyond their tips. In the ring gap (the Encke Gap) you can just make out an inner shepherd moon, Pan, whose presence keeps the gap free of ice particles.

This sort of image is just brilliant. It gives me the famous “sense of wonder” associated with Science Fiction.

Titan and Saturn’s Rings

Astronomy Picture of the Day strikes again. This was Tuesday’s (8/3/11.)

It shows the largest moon in the solar system, Titan, almost like a bowling ball against the background of Saturn’s rings. Apparently the rings are much smaller in thickness in relative terms than a razor blade is! The rings’ shadows on the planet’s cloud surface show the sun is angled above them. Just across to the right, just below the rings, you can see the much smaller moon Enceladus making one of its frequent transits of Saturn.

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