The Seasons of Saturn

Since >Saturn’s axis is tilted as it orbits the
Sun,
Saturn has seasons, like those of planet Earth …
but Saturn’s seasons last for over seven years.

So what season is it on Saturn now?

Orbiting the equator, the tilt of the
rings
of Saturn
provides quite a graphic seasonal display.

Each year until 2016, Saturn’s rings will be increasingly apparent
after appearing nearly edge-on in 2009.

The ringed planet
is also well placed in evening skies providing a grand view
as summer comes to Saturn’s northern
hemisphere and winter to the south.

The Hubble Space Telescope took the above
sequence
of images
about a year apart, starting on the
left in 1996 and ending on the right in 2000.

Although they look solid, Saturn’s Rings are likely
>less than 50 meters thick and
consist of individually orbiting bits of ice and rock ranging in size from grains of sand to barn-sized boulders.

Credit:
R. G. French
(Wellesley
College
)
et al.,
NASA,
ESA,
and The >Hubble Heritage Team
(STScI/ AURA)