The stark beauty of Cassini's Saturn

The entire universe in blog form
June 2 2011 11:30 AM

The stark beauty of Cassini's Saturn

Speaking of Cassini...

The spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn for nearly 7 years now, and has returned many thousands of images of the rings, moons, and planet back to Earth. Many times, the images are part of a series -- tracking the large moon Titan, for example, or following one of the outer, faint rings -- and while looking at them, videographer Chris Abbas got an idea. What if he strung them together into a video...?

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

[You definitely want to make sure HD is on, and make this full screen!]

Wow. I was pretty surprised something like this would have as much drama as it does! I was also surprised at how fitting it was that Abbas used the raw, unprocessed data. In many of the sequences you can see black donuts caused by dust in the camera system (the donut shape is due to the way light refracts (bends) around small particles near the detector), cosmic ray hits on the detector, and other things that astronomers call "defects" because they get between us and the science we're trying to do.

But art doesn't always perfectly intersect science. In this case, those defects add to the overall sense of the video itself. I'm impressed. The music was a good choice, too. All together it makes for a dramatic, eerie, beautiful, unbalancing ride through the solar system's sixth planet.



Related posts:


TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.