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Monday, August 10, 2009

Cassini On Time to Study Saturn's Equinox--First Since 1994

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Equinox to reveal Saturn secrets
Planetary scientists are keenly observing an equinox on Saturn on 11 August, in a bid to learn more about the gas giant's ring system.

A planet's equinox comes twice a year when the Sun crosses its equator, making day and night the same length.

It takes Saturn nearly 30 Earth years to orbit the Sun, so this is the first equinox since 1994.

At equinox, the Sun is high over the rings, so irregularities show as long shadows on the otherwise flat surface.

Objects such as "moonlets" - very small natural satellites, which are often difficult to spot - become easy to detect.

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