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Titan Beyond the Rings


When orbiting Saturn, be sure to watch for breathtaking superpositions of moons and rings.
One such picturesque vista was visible recently to the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting
Saturn. In 2006 April, Cassini captured Saturn's A and F rings stretching in front of cloud-
shrouded Titan. Near the rings and appearing just above Titan was Epimetheus, a moon which
orbits just outside the F ring. The dark space in the A ring is called the Encke Gap, although
several thin knotted ringlets and even the small moon Pan orbit there. Cassini and curious
Earthlings await the coming Saturnian equinox this summer when the ring plane will point
directly at the Sun. Mysterious spokes and telling shadows are expected to become visible
that might give away more clues about the nature of Saturn's ring particles.