Saturn, the second largest planet in the solar system, is a "gas giant" composed of hydrogen and helium. Well, the planet is best known for the bright, beautiful rings that circle its equator. The rings are made up of countless particles of ice and rock that each orbit Saturn independently. Saturn also has more than thirty known moons. Of course, Saturn is the most photogenic planet in the solar system. Isn’t it? NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has recently released a spectacular image that pans across Saturn.
It is to be noted that the spectacular image of Saturn was captured in June 2019 because that was the time when the planet was in ‘opposition’, meaning, it was at its closest distance to Earth during the year. The image captured also shows off several Saturn moons identified as Tethys, Janus, Mimas, Enceladus and Rhea.
Take a look:
Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley)
This image was taken during summer in the planet’s northern hemisphere. According to a statement of spacetelescope.org, Saturn’s appearance changes with its seasons, caused by the planet’s 27-degree axial tilt.
“This image is the second in a yearly series of snapshots taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project. OPAL is helping scientists to understand the atmospheric dynamics and evolution of our Solar System’s gas giant planets. In Saturn’s case, astronomers will be able to track shifting weather patterns and other changes to identify trends,” it added.
It is worth mentioning here that the Saturn was first identified by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens in 1655.