Astronomy Picture of the Day
July 23, 2014

Crescent Saturn
Crescent Saturn

Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

The Gas-Giant Planet Saturn appears to the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's cameras as a thin, sunlit crescent in this unearthly view. It goes without saying that the people living on our Home-Planet Earth, being so much closer to the Sun than Saturn, would never get to enjoy a view of Saturn like this one without the aid of the cameras onboard the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft. Some parts of the Night Side of Saturn (in particular, if you pay special attention, the Regions near the South Pole of Saturn) show some faint illumination which is due to light reflected off the Rings and back onto the Planet (an effect, this one, known as "Ringshine").

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the Rings from about 43° below the Ring-Plane. The image was taken in Green Light with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Wide-Angle Camera on August, 4, 2013, and it was obtained at a distance of approximately 1,2 Million Miles (such as about 1.931.208 Million KiloMeters) from Saturn; the image scale here is roughly 75 miles (such as approx. 120,7 Km) per pixel.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft b/w frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 18276) has been additionally processed, contrast enhanced, magnified to aid visibility of the Surface details and then colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Gas-Giant Planet Saturn), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among others, the existence of different Elements (---> Gases) present in the Upper Atmosphere of Saturn, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

Note: it is possible (but we, as IPF, have no way to be one-hundred-percent sure of such a circumstance), that the actual luminosity of Saturn - as it is in this frame - would appear, to an average human eye, way lower than it has been shown (or, better yet: interpreted) here.

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