|If this is Saturn, where are the rings?
When Saturn's "appendages"
in 1612, Galileo did not understand why.
Later that century, it became understood that
Saturn's unusual protrusions were rings and that when the
Earth crosses the ring plane,
the edge-on rings will
appear to disappear.
This is because Saturn's rings are confined to a plane many times thinner, in proportion, than a
In modern times, the
robot Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn now also crosses
Saturn's ring plane.
A series of plane crossing images from 2005 February
was dug out of the vast
online Cassini raw image archive by interested Spanish amateur
Fernando Garcia Navarro.
Pictured above, digitally cropped and set in representative colors,
is the striking result.
Saturn's thin ring plane
appears in blue, bands and clouds in
Saturn's upper atmosphere
appear in gold.
Details of Saturn's rings can be seen in the high
dark shadows across the top of this image, taken back in 2005.
Moons appear as bumps in the rings.
Cassini Imaging Team,