Today I found a 2006 unread issue of National Geographic in my pile of things-to-read, and I was floored by the incredible photos of Saturn taken in 2004 by the Cassini spacecraft. Don’t forget the look at the entire gallery, including the photo of Saturn’s icy moon Dione, profiled with Saturn’s rings on edge (they are only 150 feet thick). Amazing photos! Galileo discovered Saturn’s rings in 1610, but one is tempted to imagine what Galileo would have said had he seen these photos. Saturn, as big as 700 Earths, and orbited by at least 56 moons. One of those moons, Titan, was visited by “Huygens, a probe launched from Cassini.
If that is not enough excitement for you, consider a second article in the same issue, this one called “Earth in the Beginning.” It was a harsh environment, but we are survivors. Check out the gallery here, too, as well as the animations. Admittedly, these are reconstructions, but such a context it all brings home. . .