Shadow Dance: Cassini Captures Dramatic Panorama of Saturn Backlit by the Sun

Enlarge Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute MORE IMAGES

The giant planet Saturn looks a bit like a delicate Christmas ornament in a new photomosaic released by NASA.

The Cassini orbiter, currently exploring Saturn and its moons, snapped the 60 images that would become the mosaic in October, as the spacecraft swung through the planet's shadow. At the time Cassini was beneath the plane of the rings. The result is an enhanced-color panorama of the giant world and its rings, backlit by the sun against the blackness of space. The shadow of Saturn itself can be seen as a dark crescent shape cast across the plane of the rings. Just below and to the left of the rings are two white dots: Saturn's moons Enceladus and Tethys.

"Of all the many glorious images we have received from Saturn, none are more strikingly unusual than those taken from Saturn's shadow," Cassini's imaging team lead Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., said in a prepared statement.

—John Matson

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