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.
May 11, 1996
Sunlight Through Saturn's Rings
Credit: P. Nicholson (Cornell), S. Larson (Univ. Arizona), and, NASA
Explanation: Normally, Earth based astronomers view Saturn's spectacular ring system fully illuminated by reflected sunlight. However, this November 1995 Hubble Space Telescope composite image was made to take advantage of an unusual perspective, with the Sun actually illuminating the rings from below. The three bright ring features are visible because the rings themselves are not solid. Composed of many separate chunks of rocky, icy material, the rings allow the scattered sunlight to pass through them -- offering a dramatic demonstration that they are not continuous, uninterrupted bands of material.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.