And now for a little sense of scale

Illustration for article titled And now for a little sense of scale

There's no two ways about it: hurricane Sandy is huge. With its whirling winds at one point stretching a mind blowing 1,100 miles in diameter, it's the most enormous Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. But Sandy - not to mention our entire planet - is still downright tiny compared to Saturn, and few images of the ringed planet put that reality in perspective as dramatically as the picture you see here.

Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait explains:

Why does this picture grind my mind to dust? Look at the the very top, near the center. Can you see that dot of light? You might need to click the picture to get the hi-res version to see it better; that's how small it is.

Except it isn't. That dot of light is Mimas, a moon of Saturn, and it's 400 km – 250 miles – across! That's roughly the size of the state of Missouri, and compared to Saturn it's reduced to a mere pixel of light. And even then, Saturn's rings are still too big to fit in this picture!


And for those wondering: yes. That Mimas. As in, the Mimas that looks suspiciously like the Death Star, and whose temperature maps bear an uncanny resemblance to Pac Man:

Illustration for article titled And now for a little sense of scale

This moon, which could just as soon be mistaken for a fully operational battle station, is dwarfed to the point of pixelation when juxtaposed with its planet.

[NASA/Cassini via Bad Astronomy]


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