The Friday Fillip: From Saturnine to Saturn

Here we are embedded in an election — some might say mired — that even with the surprise showing of the NDP can lead to saturnine moods. Today I offer an antidote to gloom, perhaps oddly by moving us very far away from the sun. I prefer to think of it as lifting our gaze to horizons so broad that they put the merely mundane firmly into perspective.

NASA provides an astronomy picture of the day, which alone should be enough to lift your spirits (and there’s always an accompanying scientific comment, for those who require instruction in order to be diverted). To get a daily dose of this universal cure, this panacea, subscribe to the RSS feed.

But my scope is narrower today, and aimed at Saturn. In 2004 NASA’s Cassini project flew a spacecraft past the ringed planet, taking some truly marvellous photographs. Filmmaker Stephen Van Vuuren has worked these images into a movie of the planetary fly-past that even in this age of special effects will, I hope, delight and perhaps astonish you. This is no cardboard cutout, no plastic model or computer generated graphic. This is Saturn itself in all its majesty that you approach and cruise past, moons sailing towards you and then away.

The video is a combination of two or three versions of the Saturn fly-past movie, the last being the most spectacular in the 2 minute 33 second event. I find Barber’s Adagio for Strings a suitable accompaniment, but you may wish to fly through space without any sound at all. The link beneath the video below will give you the version on Vimeo, which is twice as large; and you can go full screen using the expansion link in the video controls either here or on Vimeo.

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation from stephen v2.


  1. Wow.