Icy chucks in Saturn’s Ring
- rings of Saturn are made of chucks of ice, dust and tiny rocks that orbit the gas planet, Saturn around the equator.
- the rings shimmer is visible through a large binocular or telescopes, because of the sunlight hit them.
- the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was the first to observe the rings of Saturn in 1610 using his telescope, but was unable to identify them as such. (photo: Galileo’s telescope at Griffith Observatory.)
- Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) first realised that they were rings in 1659.
- two mains sets of rings – the A and B rings – separated by a gap called Cassini Division because Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1925-1712) spotted the Cassini Division in 1675. (diagram)
- third large ring called the C or crepe ring was spotted closer to Saturn in 1850.
- in the 1980’s – NASA’a two Voyager spacecraft revealed that many other rings and 10,000 or more ringlets – some just 10 metres in width. (diagram)
- the ring are in order out from Saturn; D, C B, Cassini Division, A F G and E; the A ring has its own gap called the Encke Division. (diagram)
Did you know?
- Saturn’s Ring measure more than 168,000 miles or 21 times Earth diameters across.