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ESO Images of Saturn

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The two images presented here were taken with the 256 by 256 IR camera (Sharp II), using the Adonis adaptive optics system attached to the ESO 3.6-m telescope. The field of view is about 12.8 by 12.8 arcsec

Both images were obtained after a 60 sec exposure time in the short K filter, on August 10, 1995, at about 12-13 hours before the expected ring plane crossing (Aug. 10, 20:54 UT). Thus, the dark side of the rings is still faintly visible because of the transmitted solar light and the Saturn shine on the rings.

The East ansa view was taken at 7 h 15 UT. It shows, from left to right, the A ring, the B ring, Janus and the C ring. The West ansa view was taken at 8 h 20 UT and shows, from left to right, the C ring, the B ring, the A ring, and Tethys and Mimas, merged together. This image has a typical angular resolution of 0.3 arcsec.

Note the brightening of the western extremity of the A ring, as opposed to the eastern extremity. Its origin is still unknown. It could arise from a new satellite, or clumpy material in the F ring or Encke gap.

Observers were J.L. Beuzit, P. Prado and B. Sicardy.

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