TheABCsofViewing Ringed Planets MARC FRANTZ aturn, with its majestic rings, is arguably the most In fact, the images are so revealing that by making just beautiful and intriguing planet in our solar system. the three measurements a, b, c shown in Figure 3, we can S Christopher Wren, the English architect, mathe- estimate the distance q of the spacecraft from the center of matician, and astronomer, was one of the ﬁrst to investigate the planet, as well as the spacecraft’s latitude k—that is, its Saturn in detail. Wren’s description of a perspective- angle of elevation above or below the ring plane, as illus- drawing instrument, described in 1669  and shown in trated to scale in Figure 4. Figure 1, included two example images of Saturn. The To make the measurements a, b, c shown in Figure 3, ﬁgure is suggestive of the subject of this article: extracting we used a drawing program to ﬁt elliptical outlines to the three-dimensional information from perspective images of planet and the thin, bright F ring. The point C is the center ringed planets. of the planet’s outline. (This is the approximate image of The quality of such images is crucial for scientiﬁc
The Mathematical Intelligencer – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 29, 2018
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