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Voyager at Saturn
Voyager 1 departs from the Saturn system and leaves the ecliptic plane away from the Sun, taking a last look at the ringed planet as a crescent as it heads towards the constellation of Ophiuchus. (Gouache, from Atlas of the Solar System by David A. Hardy, also its cover.)
One of the most dramatic sights in the Solar System must be that of the rings of Saturn, seen from amongst its cloud layers from a latitude of 15 degrees north. Here we see sundogs around the shrunken rising Sun, caused by ice crystals in the atmosphere. (Courtesy BNSC, 1994)
Saturn from Enceladus
Saturn and its rings are seen from the icy surface of its moon Enceladus in this gouache painting. The rings cast a dark shadow on the upper part of the planet, and the inner moon Mimas is also visible.
Herschel Crater, Mimas
Once thought to be Saturn's closest satellite, at a time when the ringed planet had only 9 observed moons, Mimas is now known to have a gigantic crater, Herschel, whose impact must almost have shattered the tiny body.
Snow on Enceladus
An unusual exhibit in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery's Open Exhibition, 2010, was this acrylic painting of Saturn from Enceladus, showing the geysers of water vapour and ice erupting from its south pole. (Private collection of Mr. P. Russell.)
It was known even in the 1940s that Titan has an atmosphere, so it was assumed that the sky is blue. Hardy researched this and found that methane would make it green, and this is how he illustrated it in his 1972 book with Patrick Moore, Challenge of the Stars. A seismic experiment is taking place.
By the time The New Challenge of the Stars was published in 1978, Carl Sagan had proposed a new theory for the atmosphere of Titan. It would be covered by an orange 'smog', with 'ice volcanoes' belching out frozen gases and lava of liquid ammonia, methane and water. (Gouache.)
By 1978, when New Challenge of the Stars was published, the atmosphere was a reddish 'smog', and Carl Sagan had proposed that this would be replenished by 'ice volcanoes'. This proved to be prophetic, as the Casssini/Huygens probe showed these to be very probable. (Cover for Astronomy Now.)
Digital painting for Futures of an unmanned dirigible or balloon probe on Titan. The advantage of this would be that it could be moved around at will, able to send back images and data for months or even years. Saturn makes a rare appearance through a gap in the clouds.
Rain on Titan
Cassini showed seasonal rain storms temporarily darkening Titan's surface. At minus 180C these would of course be not water but liquid methane. There could also be lightning in the thick, nitrogen-thick atmosphere. (Gouache. This was an APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) in April 2011.)
Iapetus – the only one of Saturn's major moons from which the rings may be seen tilted at an angle (the rest being in the plane of the equator, so they would be seen as a line). Its surface is overlaid with a mysterious dark, possibly organic compound, which may have come from a nearby satellite in the distant past. (From Futures)
'Iapetus: A Whole World in a Rock' That is the title of this 1-metre wide acrylic painting, which was seen in a major exhibition in London in 2000. Some digital lens-flare has since been added. (Private collection of A. Curzon.)
Into Saturn's ings
In the book of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the spaceship Discovery is described as having large 'sails' (to dissipate waste heat) and travels to the Saturn system, not Jupiter's as in the movie version. This is Hardy's digital painting of the scene in which it passes through the rings.
Saturn is the next planet from the Sun after Jupiter, and the next largest. Like Jupiter it is a gas giant, but its density is so low that if placed in water it would float. Its complex system of icy rings make it visually the most beautiful of all the planets. Like Jupiter, Saturn has over 60 moons.
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