Views of planet Saturn’s night side, like the image above, are only possible thanks to spacecraft emissaries like Cassini – whose mission ended on September 15, 2017 with an intentional dive into Saturn. That’s because Earth is closer to the sun than Saturn, so observers here on Earth only see Saturn’s day side. With spacecraft, we can capture views (and data) that simply aren’t possible from Earth, even with the largest telescopes.
Bottom line: Image of Saturn’s dark side, taken by the Cassini spacecraft.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.