NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 30 April 2023: Spectacular Saturn's Moon Helene!

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day for 30th April brings a view of Saturn's Moon Helene in a colourful image. NASA has also shared some interesting facts about Saturn's Moon.

| Updated on: Apr 30 2023, 13:54 IST
Best NASA Astronomy Pictures of the Week: Geomagnetic storms, Tarantula Nebula and more
Medulla Nebula Supernova Remnant
1/5 The Medulla Nebula Supernova Remnant (April 24) - It is CTB-1, also known as the Medulla Nebula Supernova Remnant. It is a rare cosmic bubble and the remnant of an ancient supernova explosion that occurred about 10000 years ago, according to NASA. The Medulla Nebula Supernova Remnant is given the name because of its brain-like shape and is located towards the constellation of Cassiopeia. (NASA/Kimberly Sibbald)
2/5 Geomagnetic Storm sparks Auroras (April 25) - Stunning auroras sparked by the G4-class geomagnetic storm were captured from Caceres, Spain. But it wasn’t just Spain where the auroras were visible. According to a report by, the stunning streaks of light were seen lighting up the sky in Europe, in several parts of the U.S., New Zealand and as far as south of France.  (NASA/Landon Moeller)
Full Moon
3/5 Full Moon shot through Arc de Triomphe (April 26) - This captured image is a fascinating snapshot of the full Moon through the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. The amount of Moon we see changes over the month, which is known as the lunar phases, and there are 8 in total - New Moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full Moon, waning gibbous, third quarter and waning crescent Moon. (Stefano Zanarello/NASA)
Tarantula Nebula
4/5 The fascinating Tarantula Nebula (April 27) - is the 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, located about 160,000 light-years away towards the constellation of Dorado. The 30 Doradus is also called the Tarantula Nebula because of its glowing filaments which resemble spider legs, according to NASA. The Nebula is special as it can be seen in the Southern sky with the naked eye. It resembles a large milky patch of stars when viewed from Earth. (NASA/SuperBIT)
runaway star Alpha Camelopardalis
5/5 Runaway star Alpha Camelopardalis (April 28) - It is a snapshot of Alpha Camelopardalis, a runaway star located about 4,000 light-years away in the long-necked constellation Camelopardalis. According to NASA, this star is moving through space at a rapid speed of about 60 kilometers per second. In fact, this star is about 25-30 times the size of our Sun and over 500,000 times brighter! NASA has also revealed that Alpha Camelopardalis is 5 times hotter than our Sun, with a temperature of about 30,000 Kelvin. (NASA/Andre Vilhena)
Saturn Moon Helene
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Saturn's Moon Helene is peculiar. It that orbits Saturn ahead of the larger moon Dione. (NASA, JPL-Caltech, SSI)

Saturn has 83 confirmed moons! Among these, there is a Trojan moon known as Helene which is a small and faint moon. It is known as Trojan because it shares its orbit with another moon called Dione, which is hundreds of times larger than Helene. Today, NASA has shared a colourful image of Saturn's moon Helene as Astronomy Picture of the Day on April 30. In spite of its muted tones, Saturn's moon Helene remains a mystery. In 2012, the robotic Cassini spacecraft performed a close flyby of the small moon, capturing images of unparalleled precision from a distance less than that between the Earth and its moon.

While sharing the image of Helene Moon, NASA has explained, "Although conventional craters and hills appear, the above image also shows terrain that appears unusually smooth and streaked." Astronomers specializing in planetary studies are closely examining the high-resolution images of Helene to unravel the mysteries surrounding the origin and development of this 30-km-diameter moon. Furthermore, Helene is a peculiar moon that orbits Saturn ahead of the larger moon Dione, putting it in a stable Lagrange point, making it one of only four known Saturnian moons to occupy such a position.

NASA says that Helene orbits 234,505 miles (377,400 kilometres) away from Saturn while taking 2.7 Earth days to complete one orbit. In 1980, when Helene was first discovered, it was initially referred to as Dione B since it occupies a Lagrange point where the gravitational forces from Saturn and Dione are balanced, giving it an equal pull from both celestial bodies.

Did you know?

Saturn used to be the planet with the most moons in the solar system. But with the latest findings, numerous new moons have been observed orbiting Jupiter, shifting the crown to the gas giant. Previously, Jupiter had 80 moons, and with the discovery of more, its moon count has now reached 92, surpassing Saturn's total of 83. However, things may change very soon as there are many moons of Saturn that are awaiting confirmation.

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First Published Date: 30 Apr, 13:51 IST