One of my hobbies happens to be Astronomy. I have a couple of telescopes, (a 4″ f11 Refractor, and an 8″ f4 Newtonian reflector, if your interested) and when I can stay up late enough, I like to go out in the backyard for some observation. Once or twice a year I’d like to get out to Rickett’s Glenn to have some Real Dark skies. It leaves me with an everlasting wonder at how mighty, the Master of the Universe really is, and how infinitessimally small I am. Yet, still God deigned to enter into history to clean up our mess…
Anyway, the Cassini spacecraft presently orbiting Saturn took some really interesting photos of Saturn’s rings from up close. REAL CLOSE. And it just serves as a reminder of how incomprehensibly vast creation is (and by extension how much vaster the creator is). Exciting things take place in the heavens, natural and supernatural; and here is a reminder that it is not a static backdrop against which the events of our lives play out.
The rings are incredibly thin, only a few meters in thickness despite being hundreds of thousands of kilometers across. Over the past few months, as the Sun shines almost straight into the rings (instead of down on them), every bump and irregularity sticks out like a tree in the desert. Gravitational effects from Saturn’s fleet of moons tune and resonate the countless particles making up the rings, creating beautiful waves and ripples.
But this, this is something new. It’s not exactly clear what’s going on here, even in this slightly zoomed shot. But it looks for all the world like some small object on an inclined orbit has punched through Saturn’s narrow F ring, bursting out from underneath, and dragging behind it a wake of particles from the rings. The upward-angled structure is not an artifact of the camera or computer processing, as witnessed by the shadow it’s casting on the ring material to the lower left. And what’s with the bright patch right where this object seems to have slammed in the rings? Did it shatter millions of icy particles, revealing their shinier interior material, making them brighter? Clearly, something awesome and amazing happened here.