If you lived on Saturn, would its rings be visible from the equator or the poles?

If I lived on Saturn, would its rings be visible from the equator or the poles?

The Hubble Space Telescope captured the opening of Saturn's rings from 1996 (bottom) to 2000.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured the opening of Saturn's rings from 1996 (bottom) to 2000.

Above the cloudtops and neglecting refraction, geometry dictates that you’d see nothing from the poles. As you moved toward the equator, the bright A ring would start coming into view at latitude 66° (roughly that of Iceland on Earth). All of the A and B rings would appear by the time you reached 52°. Not until latitude 39° would the inner edge of ring C (the crepe ring) be seen.

Exactly at the equator you would still see the rings. We know this because, even when perfectly edge-on, they are faintly visible from Earth. But they’d form the thinnest imaginable streak, subtending less than 10 arcseconds in thickness.

— Roger W. Sinnott

All comments must follow the Sky & Telescope Terms of Use and will be moderated prior to posting. Please be civil in your comments. Sky & Telescope reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter’s username, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

COMMENT