Saturn's Beautiful and Fleeting Rings

Saturn's rings are among the most beautiful things in the solar system. There have been different opinions about Saturn's rings, over the years. Astronomer Galileo Galilei thought that Saturn’s rings were two large moons. Christiaan Huygens, another astronomer, thought the so-called “moons” were an encircling ring structure.

Only Saturn’s two biggest rings are visible through a telescope. The planet actually has seven large rings, but the seven large rings of Saturn are actually made up of little tiny ringlets. We know about its many rings because of the images from the Hubble space telescope and the two voyager space probes. Some astronomers think the rings formed when two moons of Saturn’s crashed together. Another theory is that Saturn’s powerful gravitational pull brought a comet so close to the planet that it was torn apart, forming rings.

Today we know that Saturn’s rings are made up mostly of icy particles. The largest particles are the size of snowballs, and are moving at several tens of thousands of miles an hour.

One expert said Saturn’s rings will only be around for 100 million years. We are lucky to be alive to witness Saturn’s cool form.

[Source: Secrets of the Universe]