What's up with Saturn's rings? (NASA)
What's up with Saturn's rings?
Lexile

You asked us, "What's up with Saturn's rings?"
 
Although Saturn can be seen with the naked eye, its rings are invisible without a telescope, and Galileo was the first to spot them in 1610.
 
And there are 7 creatively named rings that span up to about 175,000 miles wide, roughly 3/4 of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
 
The gigantic rings are super thin though, and some are just 30 feet high.
 
The rings look continuous, but they aren't, and they're made of billions of particles, from dust-sized frozen grains to much larger pieces of water ice and rocky particles wrapped in ice. The frozen grains whirl around Saturn in different orbits.
 
We don't know how the rings formed or when, but it could have been as early as when Saturn came to be, or as late as when dinos roamed the Earth.
 
But we do know that the rings aren't static and their formation is a continuous process.
 
Thanks to tech like the probes we've been sending to Saturn since the late 1970s, we're making new discoveries all the time.
 
We're even identifying new rings like the 7.4-million-mile-wide behemoth that was discovered in 2009, and that's just one of the many reasons why you've gotta love science.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 16 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How can particles appear as rings?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (21)
  • derekh-day
    9/16/2015 - 07:13 p.m.

    I wonder why Saturn has rings and not other planets such as our own. I assume that it has to do with the big bang theory and where rocks and such ended up. If you think about it, Saturn’s rings can be compared to moons because they are caught in its gravitational pull. In response to the critical thinking question, I think it’s because of the particles rotating around the planet. As for the particles forming thin rings, perhaps Saturn has the strongest gravitational pull towards its equator.

    • catalinak-rei
      9/21/2015 - 04:16 p.m.

      That is a great theory about the big bang. I also liked how you compared the moon with Saturn.

  • dimyam-day
    9/18/2015 - 09:48 p.m.

    Wow I actually found this article very interesting and informative. I wonder how Galileo saw the rings, if he used a telescope or what. Also I had no idea that the rings that orbit around Saturn are about the size of dust and ice, seems small. I'm definitely going to find out more about Saturn.

  • matthews-7122001-
    9/21/2015 - 01:51 p.m.

    There are so many that they can get stuck in the ice and on rocks and then can be seen. The rings are made from particls ice and rocks.So, the particls get mixed in with the rest and clump up so then they can be seen.

  • kennedyj-rei
    9/21/2015 - 03:49 p.m.

    Particles can appear as rings because they circle around planet like a orbit surrounding the planet Saturn. The particles join together to make the rings. Since that the planet Saturn is so far away from Earth, we see the rings as if they were actually connected and made with something else. However when you're in space and you're are up close you can see that the rocks and particles are separated.

  • catalinak-rei
    9/21/2015 - 03:53 p.m.

    particles can appear as rings because of the objects orbiting around Saturn.

  • collinsf-rei
    9/21/2015 - 03:56 p.m.

    Particles can appear as rings because the dust-sized frozen grain go around Saturn.

  • colins-1-kol
    9/22/2015 - 07:57 a.m.

    Saturn's rings are amazing! It appears it's rings are smooth, but they are made of billions of water, ice , rock, and dust particles which makes for a pretty uneven surface if you think about it. Saturn's rings are super rough and gritty up close. Saturn's rings appear smooth because we look at them remotely, from telescopes. Now if you wanted a good look at Saturn's rings the way they are, then you would have to send satellites and space probes to take a good look at them. It would be a bumpy ride to get there. Thus proving that Saturn's rings are not smooth, it only appears so remotely.

  • henrym-lam
    9/23/2015 - 09:50 a.m.

    Some particles that are part of Saturn's rings might include dust particles, ice, and large asteroids. There are many more though.

  • codyl-pla
    9/24/2015 - 09:07 a.m.

    I think that it is interesting how Saturn's rings are so thin, I always thought that they were really thick with large meteors. I also think it is interesting that Galileo was the first ever person to notice Saturn had rings.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT