Saturn's Rings Edge-On

Photojournal: PIA01273

December 16, 2004

Saturn's magnificent ring system is seen tilted edge-on. The Hubble Space
Telescope snapped the image as Earth sped back across Saturn's ring plane
to the sunlit side of the rings. On May 22, 1996, Earth dipped below the
ring plane, giving observers a look at the backlit side of the rings.
Ring-plane crossing events occur approximately every 15 years.

Several of Saturn's icy moons are visible as tiny star-like objects in or
near the ring plane. They are from left to right, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione
and Mimas. When viewed edge-on, the rings are so dim they almost disappear
because they are very thin -- probably less than a mile thick.

For higher resolution, click TARGET="new">here.