Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Saturday Soliloquy On Saturn

Hey, why not? Beyond Earth and the strange behavior of its human inhabitants, no planet is more fascinating to me that Saturn. This is because while this giant, the sixth planet from the Sun, is so visually striking it offers only the merest hints of the extraordinary things hiding beneath its gaseous robes.

One such thing is the mysterious
hexagonal patterns (above) in the clouds near Saturn's north pole that were observed for the first and only time 30 years ago when the Voyager probes swung by the planet until the Cassini-Huygens probe began making passes this year.

Another is the strange coloration of Saturn's moon Iapetus (left), something that was first noted over three centuries ago -- by none other than the great Italian mathematician-astronomer
Giovannii Domenico Cassini himself.

Lots more here.

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