CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Morning Star

Morning Star
PIA 14936

Avg Rating: 9.64/10

Full Size 1003x1003:
PNG 1.1 MB
  Dawn on Saturn is greeted across the vastness of interplanetary space by the morning star, Venus, in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Venus appears just off the edge of the planet, in the upper part of the image, directly above the white streak of Saturn's G ring. Lower down, Saturn's E ring makes an appearance, looking blue thanks to the scattering properties of the dust that comprises the ring. A bright spot near the E ring is a distant star.

Venus is, along with Mercury, Earth, and Mars, one of the rocky "terrestrial" planets in the solar system that orbit relatively close to the sun. Though Venus has an atmosphere of carbon dioxide that reaches nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius) and a surface pressure 100 times that of Earth's, it is considered a twin to our planet because of their similar size, mass, rocky composition and orbit. Venus is covered in thick sulfuric acid clouds, making it very bright.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 21 degrees below the ring plane.

Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 4, 2013, at a distance of approximately 371,000 miles (597,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 20 miles (32 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini Solstice 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 Solstice Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: March 4, 2013 (PIA 14936)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Mar 22, 2013 at 8:01 AM):
p.s. marvelous imaging of the E and G rings!
NeKto (Mar 22, 2013 at 7:59 AM):
Cassini has shared images of Earth and Venus with us from Saturn, and the suggestion was made to find Mercury and Mars as "morning stars." but i wonder what Jupiter would look like from Saturn. Venus and Earth look awesome. Jupiter should look spectacular.
will Cassini be operational long enough to get a good viewing angle?
Robert (Mar 17, 2013 at 9:42 AM):
This is both science and art combined. It never ever ceases to amaze me how brilliantly the Cassini Imaging Team continue to produce fascinating, mind-enriching, curiosity-engaging, and emotionally-gasping views.

It is profound to see a planet from the perspective of another planet. It adds a sense of familial closeness across the billion miles of space. This image (similar to the blue-dot one) adds to my understanding of what "system" means in the solar system.

I am curious about the blue colour of the E Ring. Is that the same kind of dust scattering effect as Raleigh scattering in Earth's atmosphere? And if so, why isn't the G Ring in this image also blue? Is that a result of the viewing geometry here? Or is more to do with the rings being a thin plane rather than an atmospheric sphere? And, if it is a result of plane geometry, then why aren't there colour fringes or gradations in the G Ring? -- I guess that's because the rings are too narrow to show that effect.

If the blue colour of the E Ring is indeed similar to the effect of Raleigh scattering, does this mean that this is the first ever image of the effect outside of a planet's or moon's atmosphere?
jsc248 (Mar 11, 2013 at 2:00 PM):
My comment is Simply Breathtaking!
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Mar 10, 2013 at 6:23 PM):
My rating would be '12'.
Mercury_3488 (Mar 10, 2013 at 5:17 AM):
This too is amazing :)

The Cassini Spacecraft passed 'behind' Saturn looking towards the inner solar system through the rings when the planet Venus, some 1.44 Billion KM / 890 Million miles was spotted throuht the rings on one ocassion prior to being eclipsed & then again righ next to Saturn's limb just after. The Sun although appearing close by was eclipsed by Saturn. Both the Sun & planet Venus (Mercury, Earth & Mars too) appeared in front of the constellation of Cetus the Sea Monster, near the boundary with Aries the Ram.

The bluish E ring is clearly visible. The E Ring is formed from ejected ice crystals from the south polar geysers on the Saturn moon Enceladus.

The G Ring is a much fainter, narrower ring, appears to be a mixture of dust & ice particles. The G Ring appears to be crud knocked off the tiny 500 metre / 1,640 foot wide moonlet Aegaeon.