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Table of Contents Enchanted Learning
All About Astronomy
Site Index
Our Solar System Stars Glossary Printables, Worksheets, and Activities
The Sun The Planets The Moon Asteroids Kuiper Belt Comets Meteors Astronomers

Your weight on the Planets The Planets Your age on the Planets
Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune pluto
SATURN
General
Description
Inside Saturn and the Atmosphere Rings Moons Activities, Web Links

SATURN'S RINGS


RINGS
Saturn's beautiful rings are only visible from Earth using a telescope. They were first observed by Galileo in 1610 (using his 20-power telescope).

The rings are divided into 8 major ring divisions. There are two main sections (called rings A and B) plus the smaller ring (Ring C or the Crepe ring), D and F rings; the larger gap in the rings is called the Cassini division; the smaller one is the Encke division. Starting closest to Saturn, the rings and divisions are: D, C, B, The Cassini Division, A, the Encke division, and F (subdivided into G and E, and a ring with visible clumps of matter, called knots). A huge, distant eighth ring tilted 27 degrees from the planet's main ring plane was discovered in 2009.


Saturn's moon Prometheus and Pandora, shepherding Saturn's narrow, outer F Ring.
The rings show intricate structure; some of this structure is from the gravitational effect of shepherding moons, but much about these rings is unknown.

Saturn's bright rings are made of ice chunks and rocks that range in size from the size of a fingernail to the size of a car. Although the rings are very extremely wide (almost 185,000 miles = 300,000 km in diameter), they are very thin (about 0.6 miles = 1 km thick).

Ring/Gap Start radius (km) from the center of Saturn End radius (km) Width (km)
D 67,000 km 74,500 km 7,500 km
C 74,500 km 92,000 km 17,500 km
Maxwell Gap 87,500 km 87,770 km 270 km
B 92,000 km 117,500 km 25,500 km
Cassini Division 117,500 km 122,200 km 4,700 km
A 122,200 136,800 14,600
Encke Gap 133,570 km 133,895 .
Keeler Gap 136,530 136,565 35
F 140,210 140,240-140,710 30-500 km
G 165,800 173,800 8,000
E 180,000 480,000 300,000
? 5.95 million 17.85 million 11.9 million




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