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.

2004 September 20
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Seeing Through Saturn's C-Ring
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: Are Saturn's rings transparent? The Cassini spacecraft that recently entered orbit around Saturn has confirmed that some of Saturn's rings are more transparent than others. Pictured above, Saturn's main A, B, and C rings can be seen, top to bottom, superposed against the gas giant planet. Although the B-ring across the top is opaque, Saturn's cloud tops can be clearly seen through the lower C-ring. The translucent nature of the C-ring likely indicates that it is less densely populated with ring particles than the B-ring. The above image was taken on July 30 while Cassini was over 7 million kilometers from Saturn.

Tomorrow's picture: communicator symbol

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