The Face of Beauty
Date: 4 May 2005
Few sights in our solar system are more strikingly beautiful than softly hued Saturn embraced by the shadows of its stately rings.
The gas planet's subtle northward gradation from gold to azure is a striking visual effect that scientists don't fully understand. The gradation may be related to seasonal influences, tied to the cold temperatures in the northern (winter) hemisphere.
At times, the rings' shadows shield the mid-northern latitudes from the harshest of the sun's rays. As Saturn travels around the sun in its 29-year orbit, the shadows narrow and head southward, eventually blanketing the opposite hemisphere.
Images taken with blue, green and red spectral filters were used to create this color view, which approximates the scene as it would appear to the human eye. The view was brightened to enhance details visible in the rings and within their shadows.
The images were obtained with the Cassini wide-angle camera from a distance of approximately 999,000 km (621,000 miles) from Saturn, as the spacecraft cruised a few degrees above the ring plane. The image scale is about 60 km (37 miles) per pixel on Saturn.
Last Update: 30 Mar 2011 (AMB)
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute