Sure enough, astronomers around the world are already looking forward to May 2025. Because then Saturn’s rings will disappear – at least from our field of vision. A phenomenon that occurs every approximately 13 to 16 years.
The reason for this is that Saturn’s axis of rotation is tilted similar to Earth’s axis of rotation. Therefore there are seasons on Saturn as well.
Twice during a Saturnian year, which lasts about 30 years, the Sun is above the planet’s equator. Then we see only the outer edge of the ring system from Earth.
Because this ring system is approximately 1 million kilometers in diameter, but has a vertical range of only 10 to 100 metres, the rings temporarily “disappear” from our field of view. This phenomenon is expected to reach its peak on May 23, 2025.
A few months before and after, the seven large rings will no longer be visible or will be almost invisible, according to NASA researcher Amy Simon. For CBS He said. This gives astronomers the opportunity to take a closer look at Saturn and its moons.
Saturn is currently the planet with the highest number of satellites in our solar system, with 146 known moons – ahead of Jupiter. The largest moon of Saturn is Titan, which has a diameter of about 5,150 kilometers.
Already in the early 17th century, Galileo Galilei observed Saturn up close through a telescope for the first time. At the time, the polymath interpreted the rings as the “handles” of the planet. It was not until 1655 when astronomer Christian Huygens realized that Saturn had one or more rings.
We now know that the rings are not made of a single piece, but rather of a large number of pieces of ice and rock. However, there is still disagreement in research circles about the origin of the rings.
According to one theory, Rings It was formed only 100 million years ago – and it is possible that the collision of the moon with the planet was responsible for this. However, other researchers assume that the rings As old as Saturn itselfThat is, more than four billion years.
Accordingly, they were formed from the substance of which Saturn is composed. Hence, the proximity to the planet may prevent the formation of another moon from this material.
However, scientists agree that Saturn’s rings will disappear within a few million to a few hundred million years. Because the rings lose their notes every second Several tons of mass.
Until then, the rings will likely be visible from Earth in all their glory, with a break every 13 to 16 years. Observing the planet is already possible with smaller telescopes.
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