The planet Saturn has the most pronounced rings out of the four planetary systems that host the natural phenomenon. According to news outlets, the planet has been slowly losing its rings, and NASA says that by 2025, the rings will no longer be easily visible on Earth.
NASA confirmed in 2018 that Saturn was losing its iconic rings due to its formidable gravitational pull that siphons particles from the rings at a rate fast enough to an Olympic-sized swimming pool every half hour. They say it will take eons for the rings to vanish completely, but their days of being easily visible from Earth are numbered.
Reports explain that a celestial alignment is approaching, a natural optical allusion in which Saturn will position itself edge-on to Earth, rendering its rings invisible from Earth’s perspective in 2025.
To envision this phenomenon, imagine a sheet of paper held parallel to the ground but placed hundreds of meters away at eye level – the paper would indeed be elusive.
The report says not to worry. This illusion will be short-lived, in cosmic terms, that is. Saturn takes 29.4 Earth years to orbit the sun, and during this time, its gradual tilt will expose the opposite side of its rings.
The peak visibility will be in 2023, and the tilting movement will also give Earthlings a clearer view of the planet’s moons.
NASA say that Saturn’s rings have less than 100 million years left before they truly become a relic of the past.
While 100 million years seems like a long time, Saturn is nearly 4 billion years old, and the rings are unlikely to be older than 100 million years old. We are lucky to be able to witness this fleeting phenomenon in our colossal solar system.
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