Saturn’s moons on parade

The US and European space agencies have just published some stunning images captured last month by the Hubble telescope of Saturn with four of its many moons passing in front of the planet. Click on the picture below for high-resolution versions of this and other images of the transit.

Source: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

In this photo you can see, from far left to right, the white icy moons Enceledus and Dione, the large orange Titan, upon which landed the European probe Huygens in January 2005, and Mimas. Owing to the angle of the Sun at the time the image was taken, Enceledus and Dione are preceded by their shadows on the planet’s gassy surface.

Saturn is currently visible to European night sky watchers as it travels from east to west following the setting Sun, with a peak altitude of around 45 degrees at midnight. At an apparent magnitude of +1 on the astronomical scale, you’ll not miss Saturn if the sky is clear, and your view isn’t contaminated by bright city lights.