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Another Bad Astronomy debunkening.

The immensity of Saturn

Contributed by
Jan 6, 2012, 7:00 AM EST

Carolyn Porco, the leader of the Cassini spacecraft imaging team, tweeted about this picture last night, and it's simply overwhelming:

This is a stunning portrait of Saturn taken by the Cassini spacecraft in December. Its beauty and fantastic -- in the literal sense of being like a fantasy -- cloudscape are so overwhelming you might not even notice the moon Tethys hanging just under the knife-edged rings. To give you an idea of how immense Saturn is, "tiny" Tethys is over a thousand kilometers across.

This picture was taken using an infrared filter, where details in the clouds come out. That, plus the shadow of the rings on the southern hemisphere, make this one of my favorite pictures of Saturn I've seen in quite some time.