CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Shadows on the Move

Shadows cast onto Saturn by its rings, visible here as dark bands, move steadily towards the equator and grow thinner as equinox approaches. During the equinox the sun will cross Saturn's ring plane on August 11, 2009. Color variations between clouds in the northern hemisphere are more apparent than those in the southern hemisphere, which seems relatively bland, as spring arrives in the north and fall in the south.

Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were acquired with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Nov. 22, 2008 at a distance of approximately 859,000 kilometers (533,000 miles) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 56 degrees. Image scale is 48 kilometers (30 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. 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 Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: January 23, 2009 (PIA 10563)
Image/Caption Information
  Shadows on the Move
PIA 10563

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Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Feb 2, 2009 at 6:50 AM):
i concur with the prediction that blue will appear in the south as the seasons change. the speculation on the reasons for the color chance is quite intriguing. i enjoy listening to all the possibilities put forth before the one that best fits the data is decided upon. some of the most interesting things to me are the ones that remain "up in the air." the Saturn system certainly has not disappointed on that score!
Red_dragon (Jan 30, 2009 at 10:38 AM):
Great image. The more the time passes, the more I'm sure the bluish color of Saturn's northen hemisphere is caused not only due to Rayleigh scattering, but also by chemistry going up there and that we'll see blues on Saturn's southern hemisphere after equinox. Only time will tell what happens.