Click here to see a large image of the Saturn System
Space photography has been changing at an incredible rate, and will keep on doing so as space probes launched by the United States, Europe and Japan continue sending back new photography. Voyager One, launched by NASA in 1977, is now estimated at 9 billion miles from the sun, and it is claimed it will soon be beyond the magnetic reach of the sun's gravitational pull. The "Hayabusa" launched by Japan in 2003 is set to return to Earth in 2010 with soil samples from the asteroid Itokawa. This recent issue of National Geographic included beautiful photographs of Saturn and it's rings and included a large map showing the current accepted status of which objects are planets and which are now "dwarf planets" (such as the recently demoted Pluto).
These page scans are from the December 2006 issue of National Geographic. Their web site is here.
[Below] Saturn's rings cast shadows on it's surface.
[Below] The moon Enceladus which orbits Saturn. It is the sixth largest moon circling Saturn, but the actual number of moons is unknown, as there is confusion over which objects are ice chunks, dust globs and which are true "moon" satellites. As of 2006 there were 56 identified spheroid moons, the largest being called Titan, which is also said to be the only moon in Earth's solar system which has a "dense" atmosphere. There are 240 identified moons in the solar system in which Earth belongs.
Original page March 26, 2007 | Updated Feb 2012