Single Photo Shows 3 Crescent Moons

Image from Cassini orbiter shows Titan, Rhea, and Mimas in all their crescent glory
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2015 1:18 PM CDT
3 Crescent Moons Put on Sky Show in Rare Photo
Saturn's three crescent moons: Rhea (upper left), Titan (middle), and Mimas (barely viewable at the bottom).   (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute, via the Washington Post)

It's not often (as in never) that we're able to look up into the night sky and see three crescent moons floating serenely above us. But thanks to a picture from the Cassini orbiter released by NASA, we're able to get a rare look at what three of Saturn's moons look like when they've entered crescent phase at the same time, the Washington Post reports. Titan (the planet's largest lunar body with a 3,200-mile diameter), Rhea (949 miles), and the relatively tiny Mimas (246 miles) made their appearance for the photo taken on March 25, and a NASA press release explains why they differ in appearance.

Rhea and Mimas have both suffered from what the space agency calls a "violent history" that's left them cratered with surface irregularities. Titan, meanwhile, looks hazier and smoother because it's got a super-dense atmosphere that scatters the light and creates a thick, yellow haze, the Post notes. Another Titan-ic difference: The crescent circles further around the moon because of that light refraction. (NASA wants to send a submarine drone to Titan.)

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