Why Saturn's Rings Will "Disappear" in 2025

Why Saturn’s Rings Will “Disappear” in 2025

Every 15 years, Saturn’s rings seem to disappear. In fact, they are still there. It is the seasons of the planet that give this funny impression, seen from Earth.

Even though it also has rings, Jupiter cannot steal the show from Saturn. The sixth planet in the solar system undoubtedly has the most spectacular rings that we are lucky enough to be able to observe. What is less known, however, is that every 15 years, Saturn’s rings seem to disappear. How to explain this strange phenomenon?

Fortunately, this is only temporary. And above all, it is a perception that does not reflect reality. The rings are still there (although we know that, unfortunately, these unique structures are in danger of disappearing one day, for good). Astronomer Eric Lagadec, from the Observatory of the Côte d’Azur, Explain the origin of the phenomenon on his Twitter account, July 22, 2022. It is the fault of the seasons.

Saturn’s rings are seen “edgewise”

Also on Saturn there are seasons due to the inclination of the planet with respect to the plane of its orbitsummarizes the specialist. [L’équateur de Saturne est incliné de 27°, par rapport à son orbite.] Thus, every 15 years, the rings seem to disappear, because they are seen from the edge. In a way, the rings appear less thick to us at this period, if we try to observe Saturn. This is clearly what we see this imageobtained by astrophotographer Damian Peach: this is an assemblage of views of Saturn, taken over a period of 15 years.

Observations of Saturn, over a period of 15 years, by Damian Peach. // Source : Via Twitter @peachastro

Currently, if you try to observe Saturn with a telescope, you should be able to distinguish its rings. The next time the rings of the planet will be visible “by the edge”, and that we will therefore have the (false) impression that they have disappeared, it will be in 2025, warns Eric Lagadec.

Saturn’s rings, which form a system extending 282,000 kilometers from the planet, are not only sublime. By studying them, scientists can learn more about the past of this large gaseous planet, including its formation.

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