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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Astronomy Picture of the Day

In, through, and beyond Saturn’s rings are four moons: Titan, Dione, Pandora and Pan.

fourmoons cassini 1004 670x378 Astronomy Picture of the Day
In, Through, and Beyond Saturn’s Rings 
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging TeamISSJPLESANASA

Explanation: A fourth moon is visible on the above image if you look hard enough. First — and furthest in the background — is Titan, the largest moon of Saturn and one of the larger moons in the Solar System. The dark feature across the top of this perpetually cloudy world is the north polar hood. The next most obvious moon is bright Dione, visible in the foreground, complete with craters and long ice cliffs. Jutting in from the left are several of Saturn’s expansive rings, including Saturn’s A ring featuring the dark Encke Gap. On the far right, just outside the rings, is Pandora, a moon only 80-kilometers across that helps shepherd Saturn’s F ring. The fourth moon? If you look closely in the Encke Gap you’ll find a speck that is actually Pan. Although one of Saturn’s smallest moons at 35-kilometers across, Pan is massive enough to help keep the Encke gap relatively free of ring particles.

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