Photo of the Six Moons of Saturn

Reply Sat 14 Apr, 2012 01:58 pm
Six Moons of Saturn
Image Credit & Copyright: Rafael Defavari

Explanation: How many moons does Saturn have? So far 62 have been discovered, the smallest only a fraction of a kilometer across. Six of its largest satellites can be seen here, though, in a sharp Saturnian family portrait taken on March 9.

Larger than Earth's Moon and even slightly larger than Mercury, Titan has a diameter of 5,150 kilometers and starts the line-up at the lower left. Continuing to the right across the frame are Mimas, Tethys, [Saturn], Enceladus, Dione, and Rhea at far right.

Saturn's first known natural satellite, Titan was discovered in 1655 by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, while most recently the satellite provisionally designated S/2009 S1 was found by the Cassini Imaging Science Team in 2009.

Tonight, Saturn reaches opposition in planet Earth's sky, offering the best telescopic views of the ringed planet and moons.


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Reply Wed 2 May, 2012 09:32 am
Saturn's Moon Helene in Color
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI; Color Composite: Daniel Machácek

Explanation: Although its colors may be subtle, Saturn's moon Helene is an enigma in any light. The moon was imaged in unprecedented detail last June as the robotic Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn swooped to within a single Earth diameter of the diminutive moon. Although conventional craters and hills appear, the above image also shows terrain that appears unusually smooth and streaked. Planetary astronomers are inspecting these detailed images of Helene to glean clues about the origin and evolution of the 30-km across floating iceberg. Helene is also unusual because it circles Saturn just ahead of the large moon Dione, making it one of only four known Saturnian moons to occupy a gravitational well known as a stable Lagrange point.

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