50 years ago, an Earth-based telescope spotted Saturn’s fourth ring | Science News

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50 Years Ago

50 years ago, an Earth-based telescope spotted Saturn’s fourth ring

Excerpt from the June 3, 1967, issue of Science News Letter

By
7:00am, May 18, 2017
Saturn's ring system

FULL CIRCLE  Saturn’s ring system is incredibly complex, as shown in this image taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2013.

Saturn: Four Rings

Walter A. Feibelman of the University of Pittsburgh … has found evidence indicating a fourth ring [of Saturn].… Every 14.78 years, the rings of Saturn can be seen edge-on from Earth, and the past winter marked one of these opportunities.… The thin ring “extends to more than twice the known ring diameter” (or a total of 340,000 miles), and is so faint it cannot be photographed except with a large telescope. — Science News, June 3, 1967

Update

 Scientists no longer observe Saturn’s rings only from Earth. Four spacecraft have visited the planet and revealed a complex ring system, with the four previously known rings accompanied by multiple fainter ones. NASA

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