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Saturn's Rings and Moons

Saturn's equator is tilted relative to its orbit by 27 degrees, very similar to the 23-degree tilt of the Earth. As Saturn moves along its orbit, first one hemisphere, then the other is tilted towards the Sun. This cyclical change causes seasons on Saturn, just as the changing orientation of Earth's tilt causes seasons on our planet.

The five Saturn observations from the Hubble Telescope data taken by Richard French and collaborators have been aligned in the image at left. These observations span over the course of October 1996 - November 2000.

At the bottom of the image, Hubble observations from the August 1995 "Ring-Plane Crossing" event taken by Erich Karkoschka (University of Arizona Lunar & Planetary Lab) (STScI-PRC96-16 April 24, 1996) and the December 1994 "Saturn Storm"- courtesy of Reta Beebe (New Mexico State University), Diane Gilmore, L. Bergeron (STScI) have been added to the Saturn ring sequence.

Image Credits for seven-panel Saturn image:
NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), R. French (Wellesley College), J. Cuzzi (NASA/Ames), L. Dones (SwRI), J. Lissauer (NASA/Ames); E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona Lunar & Planetary Lab); R. Beebe (New Mexico State University), D. Gilmore, and L. Bergeron (STScI).


Other Saturn-Related Links:

Tri-colored Moons?!

A quick look at this image of Saturn's rings shows a blue-green-red series of dots (Look carefully! There are two sets!) As the telescope snaps pictures in different filters, the moons continue to revolve around Saturn, leaving behind an image during each filtered observation. The ring particles and cloud structrues also continue to move throughout the exposure series. Moons and clouds have been lined up in the final images.