Stare Into the Eye of Saturn's Terrifying Polar Vortex

If you think the weather looks set to be bad over the winter, thank yourself lucky you're not caught up in Saturn's polar vortex.

This image, captured yesterday by Cassini, shows in great detail the swirling mess at the giant planet's North pole. Snapped from a distance of 361,000 kilometers through an infrared filter, it looks incredibly menacing.

Zoom out, though, and you realize that the vortex is small fry compared to the rest of the planet. In fact, it lies at the center of Saturn's mysterious Northern hexagon: a weird, persisting cloud pattern that is shaped like a perfect, regular hexagon. From a distance, it looks rather serene.

You can look through the raw images taken by Cassini over on the NASA website. [NASA via Planetary Society]

Images by NASA / JPL / SSI / Emily Lakdawalla

Stare Into the Eye of Saturn's Terrifying Polar Vortex