Saturn’s Light Show

Scientists with the European Space Agency used the Hubble telescope to image Saturn’s ultraviolet aurora before and after the north Saturnian summer solstice in 2017 and early 2018. The images, which are composited in the video below, were taken when Saturn was experiencing its summer solstice, with its northern pole tilted towards the sun, and visible to earth. Saturn’s aurora can only be seen using ultraviolet lights because there is so much hydrogen dominating its atmosphere. 

Like on Earth, Saturn’s northern lights or auroras can make total or partial rings around the pole. Saturn’s poles emit this light when hydrogen gas interacts with electrons caught in its magnetic field. Its auroras are actually more intense due to its strong magnetosphere and due to the planet’s rapid rotation, Saturn’s auroras are frequently spiraled. Hubble took similar pictures of Saturn’s southern auroras back in 2004 when the planet’s South Pole was clearly visible to Earth.

Bradley Pierce

This geek is the co-creator of and producer for ZFO Entertainment, a writer for ZFOnline, and also a filmmaker and was the original voice of Chip in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and actor from Jumanji, and The Borrowers.

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