CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Starry Night
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Numerous stars provide a serene background in this view of Enceladus captured by the Cassini spacecraft while the moon was in eclipse, within Saturn's shadow. The view looks up at Enceladus' south pole. Although they are not visible at this viewing angle, the icy moon's famed jets are aimed toward the spacecraft as it acquired this image.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 9, 2008 at a distance of approximately 83,000 kilometers (52,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 73 degrees. Image scale is 5 kilometers (3 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit and the Cassini imaging team home page,

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: December 3, 2008 (PIA 10526)
Image/Caption Information
  Starry Night
PIA 10526

Avg Rating: 9.15/10

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Alliance Member Comments
ml39612 (Mar 26, 2011 at 4:25 PM):
Thank you, Gort, for identifying 19 UMi in the field of "Starry Night". Unfortunately this Terran cannot find an 'n UMi' in any of the GCVS, GSC, HD, NSV, SAO, Struve or WDS catalogs. Bayer does not even have a nu.

Someone should invent a home or on-line star triangulator of the Clemenine class. Then one could copy and paste a screen grab of three stars, and voila! - seconds later, the star's name comes up. With a little extra data like approximate magnitude or what part of the sky it is in, it would be even faster.
Wyldhorse (Mar 29, 2010 at 7:57 PM):
Thank you for that update on the background constellation(s). I was going to post a query on that! As I look through the image libraries I hope to find similar images with stary "points" of reference.
Gort (Dec 24, 2009 at 7:59 PM):
The reddish looking star just above the north pole of Encedalus is actually Rudolph's nose. You cannot see the rest of the reindeer, nor Santa's sleigh, due to the lighting angle.
Gort (Dec 24, 2009 at 7:54 PM):
I think that the bottom one is "n UMi", and the top one is "19 UMi". nUMi is a vertex point in Ursa Minor, and 19 Umi is inside the constellation. However the reliability of my observation has got to be seriously scrutinized because contrary to my name, I am stuck here on Earth like the rest of us, gazing out into space wondering what's going on out there.
mikel137 (Dec 23, 2009 at 5:31 PM):
Will you identify perhaps two of the stars for us?
Mercury_3488 (Dec 8, 2008 at 1:45 PM):
For those interested, Enceladus in this shot appeared close to the borders of the constellations Ursa Minor & Draco, just inside Ursa Minor.

Andrew Brown.
Red_dragon (Dec 5, 2008 at 10:12 AM):
Certainly amazing and captivating. This is one of these pictures to show to those who wonder why stars aren't visible on most space images; it would be interesting to know what exposure was needed to capture the stars.
Also, it's surprising how Cassini has managed to take that shot despite moving so fast; that's certainly a marksman' shot.

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