Now Watch This: Saturn Aurora Movie

Wow! This is really neat! We’ve long known that Saturn has aurorae, and the Cassini team recently took a series of images to see if they could catch an aurora in action near Saturn’s north pole. As always, the folks at are always on the lookout for the latest images being beamed back to Earth, and one of the UMSFer’s, Astro0, saw this image series, realized what the Cassini team was trying to do, and used the images to put together this movie. You’ll see Saturn’s limb, moving stars, streaks that are likely cosmic ray hits, and flaring aurorae, or “curtains of light” that can sometimes rise 1,200 miles (2,000 km) above the cloud tops near Saturn’s poles. Astronomers say that while aurorae on Earth shine for a few hours at most, on Saturn they can last for days. Additionally, if you were on Saturn, the aurora would look like a faint red glow. Most of the energy in Saturn’s aurora is not in the form of visible light, though and instead they mostly glow in ultraviolet (UV) or infrared wavelengths. Read our previous article about the infrared aurorae at Saturn.

Thanks Astro0, (with H/T to Emily Lakdawalla)!