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Strange New Objects Seen In Saturn's Rings 113

Every 15 Earth years, Saturn has its equinox — the time during which its rotational axis is perpendicular to the rays from the sun, so that the sun is always directly "overhead" of Saturn's equator. This is significant because Saturn's rings orbit over the equator, so during the equinox, light from the sun hits them edge-on. This means that any objects wider than the rings, or orbiting above or below them, cast long shadows and are much easier to see. For the first time, we're able to get detailed images of these objects, thanks to Cassini. A moonlet, perhaps 1,300 feet in diameter, has been discovered in the B-ring, and the Bad Astronomy blog points out another object that seems to be bursting through the F-ring. Quoting: "The upward-angled structure is definitely real, as witnessed by the shadow it's casting on the ring material to the lower left. And what's with the bright patch right where this object seems to have slammed into the rings? Did it shatter millions of icy particles, revealing their shinier interior material, making them brighter? Clearly, something awesome and amazing happened here.

Space is to place as eternity is to time. -- Joseph Joubert