Quoth the APOD:
This image of Saturn could not have been taken from Earth. No Earth based picture could possibly view the night side of Saturn and the corresponding shadow cast across Saturn's rings. Since Earth is much closer to the Sun than Saturn, only the day side of the planet is visible from the Earth. In fact, this image mosaic was taken in January by the robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn. The beautiful rings of Saturn are seen in full expanse, while cloud details are visible near the night-day terminator divide.
I've got the static link to the APOD on my toolbar. It's so cool that I can't even be bothered to click a couple times in the "regular" bookmarks. I find myself going to the APOD several times a day, especially with the image is really great or breathtaking.
But today's, that view of Saturn, from above, it's only noon, and I keep clicking. I sat here, this morning, staring at it for 20 minutes. I've marveled at how the rings are actually all the way around the planet, and how round they are. I've sat here, dumbfounded that the planet casts a shadow on the rings!
Every image I've had of the planet for the past two decades has been a little orange sphere with a hoola-hoop, and yet, realisticly, I know it's a warped image. I know it's not a reflection of the real, and this new picture, of a white globe with perfect circles around it is... I'm still speechless.
I've sat here, staring at that space between the innermost ring and the planet itself. It looks so small. It's 66,000 miles from the planet. Earth would fit in that gap 5 times.
Enthralled, I kept looking. Surely, if you can see it from above, there's been a picture taken from behind! And there was:
In the shadow of Saturn, unexpected wonders appear. The robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn recently drifted in giant planet's shadow for about 12 hours and looked back toward the eclipsed Sun. Cassini saw a view unlike any other. First, the night side of Saturn is seen to be partly lit by light reflected from its own majestic ring system. Next, the rings themselves appear dark when silhouetted against Saturn, but quite bright when viewed away from Saturn and slightly scattering sunlight, in the above exaggerated color image. Saturn's rings light up so much that new rings were discovered, although they are hard to see in the above image. Visible in spectacular detail, however, is Saturn's E ring, the ring created by the newly discovered ice-fountains of the moon Enceladus, and the outermost ring visible above. Far in the distance, visible on the image left just above the bright main rings, is the almost ignorable pale blue dot of Earth.
Ice fountains! A moon wandering around in a lazy circle spewing ice and creating a ring around the planet. How great is that!
I feel like a kid. I feel like Captain Kirk at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when he said, "I feel young." Today is one of those days when I want to run around outside and scream and wave my arms around for no reason other than it's fun (I might do that later, actually).
Today is shaping up to be a fairly big day of heavy-hitting news and a whole hell of a lot of propaganda being flung. So next time Ann Coulter calls someone a faggot, or Fox News lies brazenly, remember, in the grand scheme of things, Bret Hume is about as important as you are I, and we're about as important in the grand scheme of things as the ants outside my window. Maybe less. And if Bill O'Reily lies one more time, in the end, who's better off, him, or a guy that has no problem running around screaming and waving his arms around for no reason other than it's fun?