Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

August 1, 1995
Crossing The Ring Plane
Credit: NASA, Hubble Space Telescope

Explanation: "I do not know what to say in a case so surprising, so unlooked for and so novel." announced Galileo when Saturn's rings appeared to vanish in 1612. In fact, every 15 years Saturn's rings seem to almost disappear as viewed from the Earth. This happens just as the orbiting Earth crosses the plane of Saturn's rings. The edge on perspective temporarily robs astronomers of a spectacular sight, however, the ring plane crossing affords them the opportunity to measure the rings' thickness and search for undiscovered moons. In this image of Saturn, produced on May 22, 1995 by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two of Saturn's, known moons are visible as star like objects to the left of the planet.

For more information about the ring plane crossing see the Saturn Ring Plane Crossing web page .

Tomorrow's picture: Jupiter's Rings

< Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.