Human Journey

Saturn’s Auroras Dance for Cassini

Wow. Just… wow.

It looks like a computer animation, I know. But that, my friends, is an actual movie of Saturn’s northern auroras taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

Witness the tallest northern lights in the solar system, stretching more than 746 miles (1,200 kilometers) above the planet’s polar limb (marked by the white hazy bit seen at left).

Cassini captured the pictures over 81 hours using a visible-light, narrow-angle camera. Technically the movie was filmed in black and white, but NASA folks gave the auroras a lovely deep orange color to help them stand out against the swirling stars.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Saturn’s light show, and Jupiter’s auroras arguably give these a run for their money.

But it’s hard to beat a good report filed from the scene—in this case, from an orbiter 1.7 million miles (2.8 million kilometers) from Saturn.

Want to know more about the science of auroras? Read on >>

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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