Exciting Saturn Observations

Saturn is relatively a small planet. It is a measly 21 arcseconds in diameter. It can be quite difficult to see Saturn clearly through a telescope. Saturn’s rings are so wide that sometimes they can be a blur when looking through a telescope. However, with the right equipment one can see the rings, moons and other aspects of Saturn. Seeing Saturn is exciting due to the fascinating observations one can make. With the correct viewing conditions, the details on Saturn’s rings can be viewed as well. Yet, to make exciting Saturn observations depends on the timing. Many suggest that Saturn can be best observed around its opposition, which happens once a year. Saturn’s ring system adds beauty to the planet. Observations have shown that the rings are split into three parts: the bright A and B rings and less luminous C ring. One of the most extraordinary gaps between the rings is the Cassini Division that separates A and B rings. This division was discovered in 1675 by Giovanni Cassini. Many have seen that the main rings are made up of a massive number of narrow ringlets. Observers also found radial features in the B ring that they believe are made of dust-size particles. Furthermore, 31 of Saturn’s satellites have been discovered and named while more are in the works of being discovered. Also, the Cassini spacecraft has shown exiting observations of Saturn as well. As it flew over the dark side of Saturn, the planet’s glow was captured. These beautiful colors are electric blue, mint green, and sapphire. During Saturn’s night, the planet has its own thermal radiation which illuminates its surroundings. There are thick clouds that lie deeply in the atmosphere which block the light from emerging. The Cassini spacecraft also captured the interior of Saturn. The planet’s outer layer is mostly made of molecular hydrogen. Below this layer is an icy layer and the core is a combination of rocky and icy. Cassini also captured observations of Saturn’s Blue Cranium which is in its northern hemisphere. Another interesting observation was one found by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). It is an image of a unique storm that emerges as a white arrowhead-shaped element near Saturn’s equator. The images reveal that the prevailing winds of Saturn are shaped like a dark “wedge” that eats into the left side of the bright central cloud. The HST also revealed the first image taken of luminous aurorae at the planet’s northern and southern poles

The enchanting moons of Saturn can be observed as well. Titan, the largest moon, is easiest to see through a telescope, following by the next brightest moon, Rhea, which orbits about 2 ring diameters from Saturn. Other visible moons of Saturn are Tethys, Dione, Enceladus, Mimas, and lapetus. Observations show that lapetus has the reflectivity of snow on one side, and complete darkness on the other side. Recently, the HST got images of four objects that could questionably be moons. Additional exciting Saturn observations are to be discovered in the future.

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