The rings on the planet go 'round and 'round...

December 24, 2012 by Jason Major, Universe Today
Raw wide-angle Cassini image of Saturn’s rings (NASA/JPL/SSI)

Recently I posted an image of two of Saturn's shepherd moons, Pandora and Prometheus, captured by Cassini in a face-off across the spindly F ring. Now here's a much wider-angle view of the gas giant's rings, seen by Cassini two days later on December 20, and the same two moons can still be seen staring each other down… two tiny points of light visible across the wavering line of the F ring at lower center.

This is just one raw image in a series of 56 that Cassini captured on the 20th, and I've combined them together to make a GIF animation—click below to watch:

Animation of Saturn’s rings made from raw images acquired by Cassini on Dec. 20, 2012 (NASA/JPL/SSI. Animation by J. Major

In the animation you can see Pandora and Prometheus promenade around Saturn (detail at right) as well as a "spoke" of light material moving within the inner dark edge of the A ring. Also many clumps are visible in the thin F ring—caused by embedded moonlets and the of the shepherd moons.

Saturn's enormous shadow engulfs the entire ring system at the top of the scene.

Cassini was moving relative to Saturn while these images were captured so some background stars make brief appearances, as well as a couple of pixel flares and a hit. These are common in Cassini images.

See more news and images from the here.

Explore further: Shepherd Moon face-off!

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not rated yet Dec 24, 2012
i withdraw my comment -- click the picture to watch the gif
not rated yet Dec 24, 2012
Amazing... and difficult to see

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