Saturn is one of the most well-known planets in our solar system based on their wondrous rings. People can often view the planet using simple telescopes throughout the year when it’s visible, however, scientists are now saying in 2025, the famous rings around Saturn will no longer be visible from our views on Earth.
Saturn’s rings are thought to be made up of pieces of comets, asteroids, chunks of ice and shattered moons that drifted towards the planet and were shredded by its powerful gravitational force.
According to a study published by Metro, scientists don’t know exactly how old the rings are, however, it is estimated that they formed 400 million years ago, which is very young in terms of cosmic bodies.
Metro also has reported that scientists know the rings are disappearing, with pieces falling off as icy rain in Saturn’s atmosphere.
Scientists predict that it will take at least 100 million years for the rings to completely disappear, however, for us on Earth, an optical illusion will make it seem as though they already disappeared in the coming years.
According to Katherine Fidler of Metro: “The rings may be massive in one dimension, but in another, they’re miniscule – measuring just ten meters thick.
This isn’t a problem right now, because Saturn isn’t in perfect alignment with Earth – it’s tilted at about a 9 degree angle. Next year, that will have decreased to about 3.7 degrees.”
Starting in 2025, the way Saturn will be tilted will be directly horizontal from Earth’s view, meaning its rings will look too thin to actually see.
Fidler described the view as like trying to look at a piece of paper turned to its side from across a football field.
Since the planet is constantly inclining, however, the optical illusion won’t last that long, as Saturn will continue to move during its 29.5 year cycle.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.