Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

September 21, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Looking Down on Saturn
Credit: Voyager Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: This picture of Saturn could not have been taken from Earth. No Earth based picture could possibly view the night side of Saturn and the corresponding shadow cast across Saturn's rings. Since Earth is much closer to the Sun than Saturn, only the day side of the planet is visible from the Earth. In fact, this photo was taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft as it flew by Saturn in November 1980. The next spacecraft to approach Saturn will be Cassini which is currently scheduled to be launched later this year and reach Saturn in 2004.

Tomorrow's picture: Antares and Rho Ophiuchi

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.