Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Quintet of Saturnian Moons

Although not in transit, eclipse, occultation, or conjunction, these five Saturnian moons have perfectly fit into view of Cassini's camera, allowing us this picture. In the picture from left to right, the moon Janus (179 km across) is farthest left, then Pandora (81 km ac. - orbiting within the A & F ring in middle of image), Enceladus (504 km ac.) in center, Rhea (1,528 km ac. - Saturn's second largest moon), and Mimas (396 kn ac.) far right. NASA writes from the official publication of this picture:
This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane. Rhea is closest to Cassini here. The rings are beyond Rhea and Mimas. Enceladus is beyond the rings. The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 29, 2011. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (684,000 miles) from Rhea and 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Enceladus. 

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Yet, Jupiter's moons are much more acclaimed, Saturn is some competition. Jupiter has (approximately!) 64 confirmed moons. Saturn has 62 moons, although only 53 have been officially named. Astronomers are finding new moons every day, so these numbers will change, hopefully, as astronomers discovers new worlds of learning - after all, every moon is unique and is an individual!

Just for interest - here are the officially named Saturnian moons - funny how they look un-American: Aegaeon, Aegir, Albiorix, Anthe, Atlas, Bebhionn, Bergelmir, Bestla, Calypso, Daphnis, Dione, Enceladus, Epimetheus, Erriapus, Farbauti, Fenrir, Fornjot, Greip, Hati, Helene, Hyperion, Hyrrokkin, Iapetus, Ijiraq, Janus, Jarnsaxa, Kari, Kiviuq, Loge, Methone, Mimas, Mundilfari, Narvi, Paaliaq, Pallene, Pan, Pandora, Phoebe, Polydeuces, Prometheus, Rhea, Siarnaq, Skadi, Skoll, Surtur, Suttung, Tarqeq, Tarvos, Telesto, Tethys, Thrym, Titan and Ymir.

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