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Astronomy

An odyssey from the Bronx to Saturn’s rings

New York Times
22 September 2009

Shadows lengthened to stretch thousands of miles across Saturn's famous rings this summer as they slowly tilted edge-on to the Sun, which they do every 15 years, casting into sharp relief every bump and wiggle and warp in the buttery and wafer-thin bands that are the solar system's most popular scenic attraction. From her metaphorical perch on the bridge of the Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn for five years, Carolyn Porco, who heads the camera team, is ecstatic about the view. "It's another one of those things that make you pinch yourself and say, 'Boy am I lucky to be around now,' " Dr. Porco said. "For the first time in 400 years, we're seeing Saturn's rings in three dimensions."

On 21 September, Dr. Porco and the Cassini team released a grand view of the rings in all their shadowed glory, including clumps, spikes, undulations and waves two and a half miles high on the edge of one ring.

Full story from New York Times.