Antonin Bouchez, W.M. Keck Observatory
What do you do when you have one of the Earth’s largest telescopes at your disposal but the celestial object you want to observe -- Quaoar -- hasn’t risen above the horizon yet? The answer at many large telescopes is “nothing,” because targets for the telescopes are all programmed ahead of time and observers can’t change the queue. But at Keck Observatory that’s not the case, so on June 7, 2011, astronomer Antonin Bouchez simply had the 10-meter Keck II telescope slewed over to view something already in view: Saturn’s giant moon Titan. These images were captured by the Near Infrared Camera-2. They are each in a different band of infrared. The first one shows the surface of Titan. The other two show the thick atmosphere. The brightening at the limb of the moon is probably due to the thicker amount of atmosphere that is being viewed at such an oblique angle.