The Rings of Saturn and Mimas

November 29, 2008

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Photographer: NASA
Summary Author: Phil Dombrowski

This spectacular image taken by the NASA Cassini-Huygens spacecraft orbiting Saturn dramatically shows the small moon Mimas, which has an approximate diameter of 246 miles (394 km), and the comparatively razor thin Saturnian rings seen almost edge on. The actual thickness of the rings is only about 30 ft or so (10 meters), and they’re composed of countless small pieces of rock and ice orbiting Saturn. The rings have been aligned very nicely for backyard astronomers the past few months. However, they’ll soon begin to appear thinner and thinner until they disappear completely, or nearly so, from telescopic view during September of 2009.

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