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. Galileo was the first to spot them. That was in 1610.
 
And there are 7 creatively named rings. They 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. 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. 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 - 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.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How can particles appear as rings?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (136)
  • saiv-win
    9/16/2015 - 05:04 p.m.

    The thing I learned about Saturn's rings is that it is made out of dust particles.

  • colek-1-bar
    9/16/2015 - 06:26 p.m.

    The particles appear as rings because the orbit of the grains circle continuously around making it seem that there is a "ring" around Saturn. This perfect ring is in reality a continuous circle pattern of dust and ice fragments.

  • kevinb-1-bar
    9/16/2015 - 07:30 p.m.

    Particles can appear as rings when they all clump up together and get wrapped in ice and water, but without a telescope it looks as if Saturn has no wings. I liked this article because it was interesting and I liked learning about space because it is cool to know all of this!!

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    9/16/2015 - 08:33 p.m.

    I think that it was amazing to know that there were rings on Saturn when I was really young. I think that it is amazing that Saturn's rings are naked to the human eye because this could possibly mean that this could possibly make you invisible. I believe that Galileo is amazing to have used the telescope to see Saturn.

  • isabellaw-1-bar
    9/16/2015 - 09:24 p.m.

    The particles appear as rings because the frozen grains whirl around Saturn making look a ring looking shape. I found this article very interesting and surprising because I did not know the rings of Saturn were made of frozen particles.

  • williamb-6-bar
    9/16/2015 - 10:48 p.m.

    I find this article interesting because I've always wondered what was in Saturn's rings. Saturn has rings made up of debris flying that freezes. I find it fascinating that each of the rings orbit in different ways. I think it is cool that the rings could be 30 feet tall.

  • angelad-6-bar
    9/16/2015 - 11:48 p.m.

    There are millions of particles and they will appear as particles, but only if you are a short distance away. So at the distance away earth stands the particles appear as rings because as you increase the distance between you and the rings the space in between those particles decrease. I found this article interesting because it is important to learn and uderstand objects in our very small solar system. The article did not surprise me because I all ready had previous knowledge on the rings of Saturn

  • erikan1-bro
    9/17/2015 - 10:19 a.m.

    The particles appear as rings because like they said in paragraph 5, they are made of billions of particles. From far away, all of the little particles look like a giant ring. They go in the shape of a ring because, like they stated in paragraph 5, the go around different orbits around saturn.

  • treyr-loy
    9/17/2015 - 01:14 p.m.

    the video says the same thing as the words on the top

  • xavierf-
    9/17/2015 - 01:14 p.m.

    because when we look in our telescope we find saturns rings invisible

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