Okay, so it is not totally real. An IR filter was added to the normal RGB files to exaggerate the clouds. Also made the rings appear red. But we couldn’t find a version of this image without the added filter. So — it is about 80% true color. Seen on The Planetary Society image library by Judy Schmidt.
In the words of Gordan Ugarkovic, the unchallenged freelance imager of our time — “On October 10th, Cassini wide-angle camera captured a set of 12 RGB footprints covering Saturn and the rings. Here's an attempt at compositing that data into a mosaic. It's not geometrically accurate, but I tried coaxing the data into at least looking nice”.
Emily Lakdawalla recently posted some images from the Cassini raw image database and I noticed that she had posted 2 similar images taken the same day. One had Saturn’s disc over exposed and the other had Saturn exposed much better with the rings too dark and lacking detail. These crescent images often make it difficult for Cassini’s cameras to get a single exposure with both elements with proper exposure because Saturn’s disk is so much brighter than the back-lit rings.
So i retrieved the images from the same day, recompiled them, did a little manual color balancing based on one of Gordan Ugarkovic’s recent crescent Saturn images and finally merged the two elements together. So, in reality the rings were taken at a slightly different time than Saturn’s disc was. However, since Cassini takes it’s color images one filter at a time (red, green and then blue), that is really true of any color image compiled from the mission database.
Also visible in the image is a small crescent Tethys and Titan’s shadow on the cloud tops.
Be sure to click for the hi-res view of this one. Enceladus hangs sharply in front of saturn – doesn’t even look real. I assume the second moon there is Mimas, but notice you can even make out a 3rd moon (Pandora) lodged in Saturn’s rings, right inside the hairline F-Ring.