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Hubble delivers knockout view of Saturn in the summertime

NASA and ESA put some rings on it with a gorgeous new portrait of Saturn.

hubblesaturn2020
The Hubble Space Telescope took a fresh look at Saturn during its northern hemisphere summer.
NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), and the OPAL Team

Saturn has seasons, it just takes a long time to cycle through them thanks to its distance from the sun. Right now it's summer on the planet's up side.

NASA and ESA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a lovely look at Saturn during summer in its northern hemisphere. "Hubble's crisp view shows multiple banded cloud activity warmed increasingly by direct sunlight," said NASA in a release on Thursday.

The telescope snapped the fetching view on July 4. The image shows some subtle changes from earlier observations, including a reddish haze in the northern hemisphere that may be due to heat from the summer sunlight.

The star of the Saturn show is always the planet's icy rings, and they're seen in their full glory here. "Just how and when the rings formed remains one of our solar system's biggest mysteries," said NASA.

Two of Saturn's many moons show up as small bright dots against the darkness of space. Mimas is to the planet's right and Enceladus appears below it. 

If you enjoy playing spot-the-differences games, then check out Hubble's 2019 portrait of Saturn and see if you can detect any seasonal changes for yourself.