First, Saturn’s rings are not entirely a natural phenomenon; each one of the rings has been formed after an impact with a rocky body (like one of Saturn’s moons) which, in turn, has left a ring-giant remnant. But the size and shape of the moon’s rings are actually a result of the moon’s orbit and the gravity of its moon. It is also interesting to note that on the very end of Saturn’s orbit, it is completely flat. On this very flat part of space, there are mountains that only appear after the moon has passed the plane of its orbit. They are the result of a different gravitational pull than the rings. In a similar way, on Saturn’s moons Io and Enceladus, the gravitational field makes it almost impossible for Io to form rings.
(From the side) The rings around Io appear to be a perfect spiral.
(From the side) All six of Saturn’s moons have bright rings. The largest ring, in turn, is about twice the diameter of the moon that makes it. From the side, Saturn’s rings appear to be a perfect oval:
From a distance, it can easily be forgotten that these Saturn’s rings are almost completely unnatural creations. This is because a moons’ gravity (and hence ring-giant remnant), is so strong that it can’t take the ring out of the orbits of the moons (if a ring were ever to come back.)
On the other hand, if you were to venture close enough to the moons, you’d notice those rings appear like the ‘spider’s web’ that you get in the sky during sunset from your back at your house. If you wanted to escape from the web with a full moon, you’d then be surprised at what you’d find on the horizon. On the opposite end of the scale, the rings around Saturn are almost certainly much smaller than seen from the moon’s surface, because you might be able to see them from the ground.
Note that on Saturn, there was a time when it was thought that Saturn was surrounded by a huge sphere of gas and ice. This image shows an old picture of Saturn taken by Galileo.
The image showed an extremely bright ring system around Saturn.
Since the rings were nearly invisible, the theory of their existence was put on hold and they were named after the Greek deities with similar names. However, the rings are now well confirmed as a natural result of the moons. In fact, the rings are a feature of Saturn’s internal structure, not an outside created effect. I can’t help but wonder why it is that we don’t have a map of the rings on the internet that shows us the size of the rings, shape, composition and all the other fascinating information that they reveal as well. Perhaps, eventually, we will get a map of Saturn’s rings. A map of the rings from NASA. The most amazing aspect of all this is that the rings aren’t in any way permanent. If you get off that far you will see them disappear as the moon orbits the planet. And if you continue to get off for too long, you can see them reappear somewhere else. And if that is one of the moons of Saturn, then the rings appear even more amazing. But for now, I’m going to leave this post here. Enjoy Saturn, and enjoy its rings.