Saturn’s seasonal shadows

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute Press Release

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.
Click the image for a larger-scale version. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.
The shadow of Saturn on the rings, which stretched across all of the rings earlier in Cassini’s mission, now barely makes it past the Cassini Division.

The changing length of the shadow marks the passing of the seasons on Saturn. As the planet nears its northern-hemisphere solstice in May 2017, the shadow will get even shorter. At the solstice, the shadow’s edge will be about 28,000 miles (45,000 kilometres) from the planet’s surface, barely making it past the middle of the B ring.

The moon Mimas is a few pixels wide, lies near the lower left in this image.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 35 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on 21 May 2016.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometres) from Saturn. Image scale is 120 miles (190 kilometres) per pixel.

Saturn: Exploring the Ringed Planet

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