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.

March 12, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Saturn in Color
1990 WFPC Team, HST, NASA

Explanation: Saturn is unusual but photogenic. The second largest planet in our Solar System, behind Jupiter, has been easily identifiable at night since history has been recorded. It was only with the invention of the telescope, however, that any evidence of its majestic ring system became apparent. Saturn itself is composed of mostly hydrogen and helium gas. Saturn's rings are composed of many ice chunks ranging in size from a penny to car. The above picture of Saturn is one of the earliest taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and is a digital reconstruction of three color images. The Cassini mission to Saturn is scheduled to be launched later this year and should reach Saturn in 2004.

Tomorrow's picture: Hale-Bopp Brightest Comet This Decade

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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.