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Saturn, Earth, and the 10 Best Astronomical Pictures of 2006

One more best of list from the past year: Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006. Including this fabulous backlit image of Saturn from Cassini, with Earth shining faintly from behind the rings.

Cassini composite image of Saturn backlit by the Sun, including Earth visible through the rings

The other 9 images are worth checking out, and it looks like Cassini also has a head start in the race for the best images of 2007:

Liquid Lakes on Titan

Methane lakes on Titan



I just can't get over how beautiful these images are. I've always been fascinated by the shape of Saturn, and am drawn to images of it.

But beyond the beauty, is the amazing fact that this image was taken "looking back" from Saturn. This is not looking out, from Earth. :-)

Something I thought of this morning: the Solar System Simulator provides maps of the Solar System at arbitrary dates and times, which is a good way to show the viewing geometry. Saturn is directly between Cassini and the Sun—of course—and the Earth is behind the Sun and about 30° to the left of the line from Cassini to the Sun.