Images Taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on May 22, 1995 during the Saturn ring plane crossing. Click on each image for more detailed information.
On May 21, 1995 at 10 UT, I had the opportunity to observe Saturn. This was about 19 hours before the predicted time of Earth's passage through the ring plane of Saturn. The rings were visible with a 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain (f/11) telescope and appeared as a thin dim line. The shadow of the rings and the north and south equatorial bands were visible on the planet. Titan, Rhea, Tethys and Dione were also visible.
On May 22, 1995 at 9:30 UT (about 4 hours after the ring plane crossing) I could see no trace of the rings of Saturn except for the its shadow which was south of Saturn's equator as it was the night before. Titan, Tethys and Dione were also visible. I found out later that Rhea was in front of the planet. On both mornings, Saturn was a great deal dimmer to the naked eye than it had appeared a months earlier. I had not expected such a drastic difference in brightness. The observations were made just west of College Station, Texas at the Texas A&M Observatory.
Richard Schmude took this photo on June 13, 1995 at 9:47 UT using a 35mm camera on a 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (f/11) with a 7.4 mm eyepiece (5 second exposure). This photo was made at the Texas A&M Observatory.
A deconvolved version of the May 14 image is now available, and is also available in false color. Since no true point source was available, Tethys was used as the point source for this deconvolution. Tethys is not quite a point source (diameter 0.145 arcsec), so some low level artifacts result from the deconvolution.
May 20 (UT) K-band image (2.2 micron) (17k). This is a 1-second sky-subtracted exposure, displayed with a logarithmic stretch. North is at the top, and east is at the left. To the east, Rhea and Tethys (farthest east) may be seen. West of Saturn is Enceladus. This image was obtained by Christophe Dumas, Natalie Domergue-Schmidt, Joe Jensen, and John Dvorak at the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope.
May 21 (UT) J-band image (1.2 microns) (7k) which shows the very faint E-ring. The integration time was 11 minutes and the image was taken at approximately 14:45 UT (about 50 minutes before sunrise). The bright spot on the left is Rhea, and is saturated in this deep exposure. The scattered light comes from the A ring and Saturn. This image was taken through thin cirrus. The observers were Christophe Dumas, Natalie Domergue-Schmidt and John Dvorak.
May 22 (UT) K-band image (2.2 microns) constructed from six 60 second exposures. The dark side of the A-ring is visible; the satellites are slightly elongated because of their orbital motion during the exposure. The contrast has been modified to try to show very faint satellites such as Helene (about K=17.5), and Janus (about K=14), located inside the A ring. The observers were Christophe Dumas, Natalie Domergue-Schmidt, and John Dvorak; the image was obtained with the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope.
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