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Saturns Rings Edge-On
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Saturn's Rings Edge-On

January 13, 2005
Saturn's magnificent ring system is seen tilted edge-on. The Hubble Space Telescope snapped the image as Earth sped back across Saturn's ring plane to the sunlit side of the rings. On May 22, 1996, Earth dipped below the ring plane, giving observers a look at the backlit side of the rings. Ring-plane crossing events occur approximately every 15 years.

Several of Saturn's icy moons are visible as tiny star-like objects in or near the ring plane. They are from left to right, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione and Mimas. When viewed edge-on, the rings are so dim they almost disappear because they are very thin -- probably less than a mile thick.


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