Tuesday, January 13, 2009

sideways saturn

i guess it depends on which side you think is saturn's front to determine whether its sideways right now. i think in our minds we all visualize saturn's rings as a dominant feature of the sixth planet from the sun, and how can we not when our little space robots take pictures like this for us to enjoy!!

while spacecrafts can zoom around objects to get different views, we are stuck with the perspective provided to the surface of the earth. from our vantage point, saturn's rings dont always appear at such an angle that we can see their extended beauty. saturn slowly rotates with respect to the earth, so that the rings sit at different inclination angles. richard bosman nicely demonstrates our varying views of saturn in this series of images taken over the period of time from 2005 to new years day 2009.

right now, saturn's rings are horizontal to the earth, with the rings very very thin and narrow... a position i think of as "sideways!" if you have the chance, view our ringed neighbor thru a telescope, via a local astronomy society, your own telescope, or a friends. saturn will not be properly viewable from the earth in this orientation again until 2038!

late this evening, 13 january 2009, provides a lovely chance to view saturn, the big, bright moon, and the star, regulus, lined up along the ecliptic.

enjoy the views!

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