What are Saturn’s rings made out of?

Saturn is the 6th planet from the Sun, which makes it two planets away from ours. Its distance from our planet is 1.4435 billion kilometers, which would still take some time to reach even with the fastest and most sophisticated spacecraft from Earth.

Since it is far for us to reach, the naked eye could not see the planet. However, if you have an advanced type of telescope that could help you see Saturn, by then, you would appreciate its beauty.

Many things make Saturn beautiful; although we cannot see it with our eyes, we can look it up and have a copy of a photograph of Saturn’s beautiful features.

Saturn’s ring is one of its greatest features; it is interesting to know what makes the ring as beautiful as it is now.

If you are interested in knowing the compositions of other heavenly bodies, such as the Sun, you will enjoy learning what makes up Saturn’s rings.

Bright and Icy Ring

portrait of Galileo Galilei

An astronomer named Galileo was the first person to see Saturn’s rings. He saw a lot of observations using his telescope. He spotted them while looking into space through a telescope in 1610; many have attempted and succeeded in studying Saturn’s ring from then on. But, of course, having a ring alone does not make Saturn beautiful since it is a known fact that Saturn is not the only planet with a ring – there is Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune – but Saturn is known to have the biggest and brightest ring.

From a distance, Saturn looks like it has seven rings. To add more, from our planet, the ring would look white and icy. Saturn’s ring was discovered to be made of ice and rock, which vary in size. Some pieces are as small as a grain of sand, while others are as big as houses. On the other hand, some scientists concluded that Saturn’s ring is made of pieces of comets, asteroids, and shattered pieces of Saturn’s moon that broke up due to the planet’s strong gravitational force.

It is quite a feat knowing for yourself what Saturn’s ring is made of. It is also interesting to see what a broken piece of a moon looks like.

7 Rings

a closer look of Saturn’s rings

Originally, when Galileo discovered the rings, his friend thought that it was more like ears than rings. However, it was not until 1656 that Christiaan Huygens discovered the ears weren’t circling the planet in a thin ring.

Saturn’s ring is the only ring that is visible on Earth. These seven rings are found to have several gaps and divisions between them. These rings are named alphabetically based on the date that they were discovered. Although the names of the rings are from the alphabet, the names are not alphabetical in order. The rings are labeled as D, C, B, A, F, G, and E from the planet going outwards. That would mean that the fourth ring from the planet was the first to be discovered.

Most of these rings are clustered very close together except for A and B, which are 4,700 kilometers apart. On the other hand, the D ring is a faint ring, meaning that it could be made up of less material compared to the other rings. While the E ring is massive, it could fit 2 billion Mars.

It is believed that Saturn’s rings are made up of the planet’s moons’ broken pieces. It was believed that the moons would clash together because of the planet’s gravity, and the pieces that come off the moon due to impact would then go to the planet’s rings.

60 Known Moons: Mimas, Enceladus, and Titan

Walking under the moon or having dinner under the full moon has a romantic ring to it. We have one moon, and we have enjoyed its presence; imagine having 60 or more moons.

 It is still not clear how many moons Saturn has, but it is known that there are 60 identified moons on the said planet. Some recent research shows that it has 80 moons. Out of these moons, Mimas, Enceladus, and Titan stood out.

Mimas was dubbed as the real-life ‘death star’ as it resembles one from a famous movie franchise – Star Wars. Mimas surface is covered in craters, and these craters are presumed to be evidence of impact. The Herschel crater is the biggest crater on the moon’s surface; the crater looks like a bulls-eye which is the moon’s greatest resemblance to the ‘death star’ in the original movie – Star Wars.

Enceladus is also one of the many moons in Saturn. This moon is the 6th largest moon on the planet, and its features have similar features to Saturn’s ring. A large part of it is icy as it is made up of silicates. Its core is believed to have a rocky core mixed with water, ice, and an icy mantle. Imagine having our moon in the color of the ocean. Wouldn’t that be lovely? 

Titan is the largest moon in Saturn and 2nd largest in the solar system. Just like Enceladus, Titan has an icy surface. However, what separates Titan from Enceladus, and what makes it truly beautiful, is the hazy golden atmosphere.

The planet Saturn, its rings and moons are a sight to hold. It would have been nice to sit under the midnight sky with 60 or maybe 80 different moons and an icy ring.