Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2018 April 24

Play Saturn's Rings Like a Harp
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, SSI, Cassini; Sonification: Matt Russo

Explanation: Sure, you've seen Saturn's rings -- but have you ever heard them? Well then please take this opportunity to play Saturn's rings like a harp. In the featured sonification, increasing brighter regions of Saturn's central B-ring play as increasingly higher pitched notes. With a computer browser, click anywhere on the image to begin, and pluck consecutive strings by sliding the spacecraft icon's magnetometer boom across the strings. Both manual and automatic modes are possible. The featured natural-color image was taken by the late Cassini spacecraft in 2017 July as it grazed Saturn's rings and took the highest-resolution ring images ever. The reason why the mostly water-ice rings have a tan hue -- instead of white -- is currently a topic of research. Played in minor harmony, a different false-color version of the same image appears where regions with a greater abundance of water ice appears more red.

Tomorrow's picture: Hubble's Jupiter

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