Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-Porn of the Day: Huge Saturn Storm.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this true-color photo of a huge storm churning through Saturn's atmosphere a couple years ago, but it's still raging. This storm is the largest and most intense observed on Saturn, about 500 times the area of the biggest storms ever observed there; in this shot, it's about 6000 miles by 10,000 miles. That's about the size of the planet Earth. However, at its biggest it extended nearly one-third of the way around the planet, about 62,000 miles. That's a single storm that's almost eight Earth diameters. Big sucka.

Click the image to see NASA's Cassini mission page.

The shadow cast by Saturn's rings has a strong seasonal effect, and scientists theorize that the seasonal change kicked off the powerful storms. Periodic, huge storms called Great White Spots have been observed in previous Saturnian years (each of which is about 30 Earth years), usually appearing in late northern summer.

Here's what it looks like now (in infrared):

Click the image to see the Sky & Telescope site.

Tags: astronomy

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