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Saturn Casts Shrinking Shadow Over Rings in NASA Photo

Aug 10, 2016 06:10 AM EDT
FILE PHOTO - Cassini Spacecraft Prepares To Enter Saturn's Orbit
Saturn casts a shrinking shadow over its ring.
(Photo : NASA via Getty Images)

Saturn can easily be considered as one of the most interesting planets since it has an almost magical ring that surrounds its body. Recently the Cassini spacecraft's camera took an image of Saturn and its ring with the planet's shadow visible over the rings.

Shadows created by the Sun when it reached an object play a vital role in determining the season here on Earth, according to Apparently, the same is true with Saturn. The image released by NASA not only shows the shadows of the planet over its ring but also the changing season on Saturn.

The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera took the fascinating image of Saturn and its ring on May 21 this year. The image was taken in broad daylight that caused the shadow of the planet to dominate over the ring.

The image taken also captured the seasons on Saturn by way of the changing or moving marks and shadows on the ring. The shadow that used to be longer is shorter in length today and experts say will grow even shorter in May 2017. During the solstice, the shadow will only be 28,000 miles or (45,000 kilometers) from Saturn's surface that will barely make it to the middle of Saturn's B ring, according to Astronomy Now.

Reports say that the shrinking shadow used to cast across all of Saturn's rings captured by earlier Cassini missions, but today the shadow barely makes it past the Cassini division.

Aside from the magnificent shadow, another celestial body in the Saturn region is also visible from the image. One of its moons, Mimas can be seen on a closer look on the lower left side of the image.

To capture the image, the wide-angle space camera aboard the Cassini spacecraft was about two million miles (3.2 million kilometers) from its host planet, Saturn. The crystal clear image was produced in an image scale of 120 miles per pixel.


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