CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Equinox Arrives!

The 15-year wait is over! At 00:15 Universal Coordinated Time on August 11, the moment of equinox arrived at Saturn, and Cassini was on hand to witness this spectacle of sunlight and shadow. A series of raw, unprocessed images has just beamed back from the spacecraft, and a few are posted here.

Equinox occurs every half-Saturn-year which is equivalent to about 15 Earth years. The illumination geometry that accompanies equinox lowers the sun's angle to the ringplane and causes out-of-plane structures and some moons to cast long shadows across the rings. The ring shadows themselves have become a rapidly narrowing band cast onto the planet.

Aug 12, 2009: Saturn Equinox Raw Preview #1 - This raw, unprocessed image of Saturn was taken by Cassini on Aug. 12, 2009, just after equinox.
Aug 12, 2009: Saturn Equinox Raw Preview #2 - This raw, unprocessed image of Saturn was taken by Cassini on Aug. 12, 2009, just after equinox.
Aug 12, 2009: Saturn Equinox Raw Preview #3 - This raw, unprocessed image of Saturn's rings was taken by Cassini on Aug. 12, 2009, just after equinox.
Aug 12, 2009: Saturn Equinox Raw Preview #4 - This raw, unprocessed image of Saturn's rings was taken by Cassini at equinox on Aug. 10, 2009.
Alliance Member Comments
Red_dragon (Aug 25, 2009 at 1:33 PM):
I have to agree with PeterDarmady, and of course as expected, I'm glad to see there're so many people thinking as me or him. People that make US that so-loved country despite someone as GWB, people thanks to which there's something as NASA.
And as him, my heroes were (and are) people as Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan (I remembered his death made me to cry and to know of that JUST the day I borrowed from the library "A Pale Blue Dot"), and of course Carolyn Porco and many others as them.
NeKto (Aug 24, 2009 at 4:15 PM):
Respected PeterDarmady! you and i had the same heros on the top of our lists. the physics, astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and astronomy i learned from the three greats you name has alowed me a deeper apreciation of the great work our little robot friend and the CICLOPs team have shared with us.
stowaway (Aug 24, 2009 at 2:34 PM):
PeterDarmady: I am one American who feels the same. Sometimes I think NASA is the only good thing left. But can NASA save the United States?
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Aug 24, 2009 at 8:17 AM):
PeterDarmady: There are tens of millions of us here in America who feel *exactly* the same way. We just hope the government follows suit. And to everyone: stay tuned! We'll have some very exciting results for you soon.
PeterDarmady (Aug 24, 2009 at 6:01 AM):
When I was a child in the Far North of Scotland, my heroes were people like Feynman, Asimov, Sagan... Then you had some presidents culminating in GWB. I despaired of your great country which had led us in exploration of space, literature and thought and was falling into the witchcraft of fundamentalism, unreason and creationism. Now, through the triumphs of the Mars rovers and Cassini I can hope again that maybe the US can lead by example and not descending into the anarchy of Rogue State.
NeKto (Aug 14, 2009 at 8:58 AM):
the late great Walter Cronkite said we had run out of superlatives describing the U.S. space program in the 1960s. Wonder what he would thingk today. once more we are at a point where words are inadequate. i can't spell them right anyway, so i'm not woried about it.
i am eager to see what the team is working on that hasn't been released yet.
Can anyone blame me for wanting more?
stowaway (Aug 13, 2009 at 5:49 PM):
All this and more for six tenths of one percent of the total national budget. This is the sort of stuff great nations undertake. Thank you J.F.K. for having the vision to set us on this course.
josephcecil (Aug 13, 2009 at 4:52 PM):
seeing stars and galaxies through Saturn's rings, amidst tightly winding concentric patterns, really a heavenly sight.. thanks to so many who work together to bring the world such revealing images. the shadows cast by moons during saturn's equinox are so amazing.. the gravity waves preceding those moons are profound.. what a great use of tax dollars! thanks for the beautiful work!
Iapetus Monolith (Aug 13, 2009 at 8:16 AM):
I couldn't agree more with my fellow members' comments: the Imaging Team rule - Lords of the Rings! Can'[t wait to see the processed versions in full colour ...
BobbyD (Aug 13, 2009 at 6:35 AM):
Views of the 'disappearing' ring shadow and the stars thru the rings...are truly amazing!!!!
Red_dragon (Aug 13, 2009 at 2:51 AM):
I agree. Thanks for bringing us these hot -in both senses- images
stowaway (Aug 13, 2009 at 2:43 AM):
Thank You Imaging Team for the early preview of these very special images.

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