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Astr112 Photography Projects, Spring 2006

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Saturn, Adam Cosnek


The planet Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun. The planet Saturn, first observed with a telescope by Galileo in 1610, was the first planet to have noticeable rings around it. Rings were later found around Uranus, Jupiter, and Neptune. Due to Saturn's fast rotation (9.64 km/s or 6 mi/s) and liquid/gas composition, this planet has a flattened appearance. Saturn is one of the most beautiful planets due to its rings and slight color differences. The rings attract the most attention of the planet. There are two distinct rings and one fainter ring. The two distinct rings are separated by a gap called the Cassini division. Though the rings may look continuous from the Earth's viewpoint, actually the rings have different compositions of innumerable small particles each orbiting independently. These particles range in size from a centimeter or so to several meters. Also, every so often a kilometer-sized particle may be observed.

The above image of Saturn displays a faint distinction between the rings orbiting around the planet. Saturn is currently in its winter solstice, thus having an affect on the location of the rings relative to Saturn from the Earth's point of view. Winter solstice refers to the tilting of the planet along its axis. Therefore, during the winter solstice one would view the south pole from earth., which occurs in the photo above. The rapid rotation of Saturn causes highly reflective clouds which mark the equatorial zone of trade winds. Furthermore, one can notice the yellowish color of the planet due to the scattering of the blue light by molecules within the atmosphere. The image provides an accurate representation of the color of the rings, which is gray or white because the rocks, ice, and icy rocks are usually dual grays and whites. The yellowish color of the planet's atmosphere results from the scattering of blue light by molecules within the atmosphere.The angular size of Saturn is 90 arc seconds and the linear sizes of Saturn is 6.1x10^8 Meters.




The Sky Software

Right Ascension (J2000) 08:31:55
Declination (J2000) +19:38:29
Filters used blue(B), green(V), and red(R)
Exposure time per filter 20 x .1s BVR
Date observed

April 16, 2006 (BVR)