Saturn is one of the most famous planets in the solar system. The gas giant owes such popularity to its famous ring system. Have any of you ever wondered how many rings Saturn has? Five, ten, maybe twenty?
Saturn through the lens of a telescope or strong binoculars looks like an orange ball surrounded by a solid ring. It is difficult for an amateur astronomer to see all the rings of the planet without sophisticated instruments. But it is within the power of scientists. They counted the exact number of Saturn's rings a long time ago!
In total, the system of flat concentric formations of Saturn consists of 28 elements. Ten of them are rings. They differ from each other in diameter, visibility, thickness and degree of remoteness from the planet. The thickness of the F ring is about 30 – 500 km, and the E ring is about 300,000 km!
The D ring is closest to Saturn. It is only 67,000 km from the planet's surface. And the most distant is the ring of Phoebe. It is located at a distance of more than 4 million km from Saturn. At the same time, the Phoebus ring is practically invisible. It was discovered only with the help of special instruments.
A, B and C are the most visible components of the ring system of the planet Saturn.
Rings A, B, C are located quite close to each other. Therefore, if you look at the planet through an amateur telescope, it may seem that Saturn has only two large rings. But this is an illusion caused by the imperfection of the telescope and the peculiarities of the orbit of Saturn.
They are clearly visible in optical telescopes and even in powerful field glasses.
The rings separate the so-called “slits” and “divisions” . The widest of them is the division of Cassini. Its width is 4700 km.
Rings A and B were discovered in the 17th century. The great Galileo Galilei himself had a hand in the discovery. Almost 200 years later, astronomers isolated the C ring from B. The rest of the concentric formations were discovered in the 20th and 21st centuries with the help of American and European space stations. The last ring at the moment – the Phoebus ring – was discovered relatively recently – in 2009.