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Saturn Aurora Movie

Published by Matt on Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:01 pm via: source
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Written by Nancy Atkinson

Wow! This is really neat! We’ve long known that Saturn has auroras, and the Cassini team recently took a series of images to see if they could catch an aurora in action near Saturn’s north pole. As always, the folks at UnmannedSpaceflight.com are always on the lookout for the latest images being beamed back to Earth, and one of the UMSFer’s, Astro0, saw this image series, realized what the Cassini team was trying to do, and used the images to put together this movie.

You’ll see Saturn’s limb, moving stars, streaks that are likely cosmic ray hits, and flaring auroras, or “curtains of light” that can sometimes rise 1,200 miles (2,000 km) above the cloud tops near Saturn’s poles. Astronomers say that while auroras on Earth shine for a few hours at most, on Saturn they can last for days. Additionally, if you were on Saturn, the aurora would look like a faint red glow. Most of the energy in Saturn’s aurora is not in the form of visible light, though and instead they mostly glow in ultraviolet (UV) or infrared wavelengths. Read our previous article about the infrared auroras at Saturn.

Thanks Astro0!

Hubble Space Telescope images of Saturn and its polar auroral emissions. Credit: NASA

Hubble Space Telescope images of Saturn and its polar auroral emissions. Credit: NASA

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