Dedicated to my motherThis piece is, and has been from the start, dedicated to my mother, for whom Saturn held a particular attraction. As difficult as it was to complete, knowing that she would be cheering me on made all the difference. One can find my full dedication in the accompanying Journal Entry.NOTE: A Daily Deviation! I...Can't...Believe it! . First and foremost a huge, huge thank you to ^alltheoriginalnames for the feature and the DD. I would like to also thank everyone here for their kind words and awesome support.
In this image we see the full majesty of Saturn and its magnificent rings as we glide approximately 350 metres (1,148 ft) above the rings. From our vantage point orbiting 56,200 km (90,000 miles) above the tumultuous cloud tops, Saturn looms large, its brilliant butterscotch clouds a display of fantastic turbulence as storms and vicious winds, exceeding 1,700 km/hr (1,000 miles/hr), whip through its atmosphere. High in the northern hemisphere a pale ovular storm thousands of kilometres wide, rages as it shears its way through the surrounding belts. On the night side powerful lightning flashes illuminate the surrounding cloud tops, casting pale, ghostly hues.
Closer by, a moonlet some 300 metres (980 ft) in length drifts towards us. As it slides across its orbit around Saturn, its modest gravity disrupts the motions of the car to house-sized icy fragments around it. Using the Cassini spacecraft, astronomers have been able to identify these tiny moonlets by how they distrub the rings around them as they orbit. These propeller or scallop shell like perturbations offer a gravitational fingerprint of the moonlet's presence. Here, our hypothetical moonlet's gravitational influence disrupts a large, but loosely agglomerated collection of ring material, kicking it above the surrounding ring plane.
At the far left of the screen, the Sun, some 1.4 billion km (875 million miles) distant, shines with slightly over 1% of the brightness as it does back on Earth.
This is likely one of the most time-consuming completed pieces I have uploaded to DeviantArt to date. I started it back on March 10, 2012 hours after uploading "The Seventh Planet as Viewed from Miranda." Over the next two-month period I worked on the image periodically, with most of the serious effort being done in the first and last weeks of its development.
I again tried to expand upon the "traditional painting style and methods" I had experimented with in my last Space Art-themed piece
. By far the most difficult component was hand painting the, I dare say, hundreds of icy fragments in the foreground, and extending the ring plane towards the horizon. The clouds of Saturn were completed in about 3-4 hours. The moonlet and the kicked up cloud of debris next to it were completed near the end of the process, with the latter being an addition made in the last three days.
Let me just state that I am not a scientist nor a professional astronomer. I am a space enthusiast. I try to be as accurate as possible, but in the realms of art and composition, some licenses are ultimately made. Here are a few notes on accuracy.
From our vantage point 56,000 km from Saturn, the planet should be more or less proportional to what it would look like if seen from this distance, though it would appear slightly more oblate than it does here.
The sheer density and ubiquity of the car to house-sized fragments seen in the rings immediately around us have been exaggerated. In reality the contents of the rings are likely far finer and more pulverized than visualized here, likely appearing more like irregular ice cubes or flakes of snow. That being said there are indeed thousands and millions of objects as large as those seen here present in the rings. Also the gaps between individual ringlets is likely less defined in nature and represent modest declines in fragment density, ergo there probably should be more fragments floating around in them.
I'm not a mathematician nor a an expert on gravitational dynamics. The perturbation of the rings caused by the moonlet are based on satellite imagery of such interactions as seen from "above". I had to extrapolate a fair bit on how to depict this in three dimensions, so unfortunately I can't guarantee the depiction is absolutely accurate. I will confess that the position of the moonlet relative to the leading and trailing waves is a little off. In reality the moonlet should appear to be hovering a bit further in the distance, just below center and to the left, directly above the point where the leading and trailing waves are immediately ajacent to one another. (Sorry for the rambling description)
Overall however, I think the image illustrates at least how such interactions may, at least in broad strokes, manifest themselves.
The Sun is fairly consistent with reality, though the disc itself had to be exaggerated by 50 to 100%.
Thank you for your patience and support.
This piece represents the second piece in my "Visions of the Solar System Collection"
◄ I. Seventh Planet as Viewed From Miranda
Next Stop Jupiter...
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