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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.

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

Copyright © Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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