December 4, 2023

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Within 18 months, Saturn’s rings will disappear for this reason

Within 18 months, Saturn’s rings will disappear for this reason

If you have access to a telescope, there are few sights more incredible than the magnificent ringed planet Saturn. Currently, this planet is clearly visible in the night sky and using a not very strong lens, it is possible to see its rings. However, in recent days, a number of articles have claimed that these things are quickly disappearing By 2025 they will no longer be seen. What catastrophe can make something so big disappear? Will they disappear forever?

The short answer is no. Although it is true that the rings You will become almost invisible From Earth in 2025, this is neither a surprise nor a cause for concern. Rings “They’ll show up again” shortly. The truth is that it does not disappear in itself, but rather disappears before our eyes alone.

Hidden, not lost

To understand why our view of Saturn changes, let’s start by looking at Earth on its continuous journey around the sun. That journey takes us through the seasons: from winter to spring, from summer to fall, and back again. What causes the seasons? Simply put, the Earth is tilted to one side, as seen from the Sun, and our equator is tilted about 23.5 degrees to the plane of our orbit.

Just like the Earth, Saturn faces the seasonsBut 29 times longer than our time. While Earth’s equator is tilted by 23.5 degrees, Saturn’s equator is tilted by 26.7 degrees. The result is that as the planet moves through it Its orbit is 29.4 years Around our star, it also appears to move up and down, as seen from the Earth and the Sun.

The planet’s massive ring system is made up of chunks of ice, dust and rock, and extends over a great distance: very small. More than 280 thousand kilometers of the planet. but She is very skinnyIn most places it is only tens of meters thick. The rings orbit directly above Saturn’s equator, and are therefore also inclined to the plane of the planet’s orbit.

The rings are so thin that they can be seen from a distance. They seem to disappear when seen side by side. As Saturn moves around the Sun, our view changes. During half of its orbit, the northern hemisphere is tilted toward us, and the north face of the planet’s rings is tilted toward us. When the ringed planet is on the other side of the Sun, the southern hemisphere faces us.

For the same reason, we see the southern face of the planet’s rings tilted towards us. Twice a Saturn year, we see the rings sing and practically disappear from view. This is what will happen in 2025. It is clear that Saturn’s rings will “disappear” because we will see them on the edge of the abyss.

this event It happens regularly. The last time was in 2009, and the rings became visible again gradually, over the course of a few months, so rest assured.

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