PATTERN EXPLORATION | SATURN’S SEASONS
Saturn’s seasons can be determined by the appearance of it’s rings. On Earth, the solstice is the time when the Earth’s spin axis tilts directly toward the Sun. Since Saturn’s grand rings orbit along the planet’s equator, these rings appear most prominent – when viewed from the direction of the Sun – when the Saturn’s spin axis points toward the Sun. Conversely, when Saturn’s spin axis points to the side, an equinox occurs and the edge-on rings are hard to see. In the featured montage, images of Saturn over the past 11 years have been superposed to show the giant planet passing from southern summer toward northern summer. Although Saturn will only reach its northern summer solstice in 2017 May, the image of Saturn most analogous to today’s Earth solstice is the bottommost one.
Image and text via NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day