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Saturn as seen from the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus; crescent; gas giant; jovian planet; planetary rings; ring system; oblate spheroid - Space Art Illustration

Saturn from the surface of Enceladus

This is how Saturn may appear from the icy surface of Enceladus, one of Saturn's eight major satellites. At a distance of 148 thousand miles, Saturn would subtend an angle of 29º in Enceladus' sky, about the same width as 58 Earth moon's lined up side-by-side.

While the surface of Enceladus is as reflective as new fallen snow, it would probably appear leaden about an hour before sunrise with a crescent Saturn as the only source of illumination. Like all of Saturn's major satellites, Enceladus always keeps the same side facing its host planet. From the perspective of a stationary observer on Enceladus, Saturn would always appear in the same position in the sky, cycling through its phases in about one-and-half Earth days.

This image also illustrates a phenomenon only recently discovered by NASA's Cassini probe: sunlight reflecting off of Saturn's rings casts a faint glow onto the cloud tops of Saturn's night side. The illumination is about the same as three of Earth's full moon combined.


Special thanks to Björn Jónsson for his Saturn clouds map and rings data.

Copyright © Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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