The Seasons of Saturn

Saturn has seasons, like those of planet Earth, because its axis is tilted as it orbits the Sun. The only deference is that Saturn’s seasons last for over seven years.   Image ©   R. G. French (Wellesley College) et al., NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

What season is it on Saturn now? Orbiting the equator, the tilt of the rings of Saturn provides a graphic seasonal display. Each year until 2016, Saturn’s rings will be increasingly clear after appearing nearly edge-on in 2009.

Saturn is also well placed in evening skies providing a grand view as summer comes to Saturn’s northern hemisphere and winter to the south.

The Hubble Space Telescope took the above sequence of images about a year apart, starting on the left in 1996 and ending on the right in 2000.

Although they look solid, Saturn’s Rings are likely less than 50 meters thick and consist of individually orbiting bits of ice and rock ranging in size from grains of sand to barn-sized boulders.

source APOD