Watch Saturn’s moon Iapetus hide a bright star


Here is Saturn’s fascinating little moon Iapetus, drifting in front of a well-known star in the constellation Orion. The star is called Bellatrix (Gamma Orionis). The Cassini spacecraft – which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004 – captured this event with narrow-angle camera on August 10, 2013. Cassini mission scientists assembled the animation from 19 raw images, stacked in Photoshop.

You might think of this event, the passage of Iapetus in front of a distant star, as a mini-eclipse, and so it is. Astronomers, though, would tend to use the word occultation for this event. Check out the images below for more about Iapetus.

Saturn's moon Iapetus, Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Iapetus is a two-toned moon. The leading hemisphere and sides are dark with a slight reddish-brown coloring, while most of the trailing hemisphere and poles are bright. Image via NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Mountains on Iapetus, Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
A mountain range on Iapetus, via NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Surface of Iapetus via NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Bottom line: Saturn’s moon Iapetus passed in front of the star Bellatrix in the constellation Orion on August 10, 2013. NASA space scientists assembled this cool animation.

Hal Levison on Saturn’s weird moon Iapetus

Video: Ride with the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn

August 15, 2013

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