19/12/2012 03:35 GMT | Updated 17/02/2013 05:12 GMT

Saturn's Shadow: Nasa Unveils Dramatic 'Backlit' Photo Of Ringed Planet (PICTURES)

Nasa has unveiled a dramatic new view of Saturn and its rings.

The image was taken while the Cassini spacecraft was in Saturn's shadow, producing an eerie, backlit effect.

The glorious mosaic view was captured in 60 separate stages by the craft which has been in orbit around the planet for more than eight years.


Nasa said:

"Looking back towards the sun is a geometry referred to by planetary scientists as "high solar phase;" near the center of your target's shadow is the highest phase possible. This is a very scientifically advantageous and coveted viewing position, as it can reveal details about both the rings and atmosphere that cannot be seen in lower solar phase."

Two of Saturn's moons - Enceladus and Tethys - can be seen in the picture.

The space agency said it was releasing the image "in celebration of the 2012 holiday season", and added the image shows more detail than the famous "In Saturn's Shadow" image from 2006 which also included a glimpse of Earth.

Cassini is a cooperative project by Nasa, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.