If Earth Had a Ring Like Saturn

Ron Miller is back!

In his collection of manipulated images “What if Other Planets Replaced Earth’s Moon?” , Ron Miller showed what the night sky would look like if the moon was replaced by one of our solar system’s planets.
Now these new illustrations show what our skies would look like if we had rings that were the same proportional size and position as Saturn’s.

Funnily enough, our planet DID once have rings. According to current theories, millions of years ago a planet-sized body called Theia collided with Earth. A huge amount of material from Earth was blown up into orbit by the impact, where it formed a ring. Because this material was orbiting outside of earth’s Roche limit, it eventually coalesced into the Moon.

 Elise Andrew

Here is what the rings might look like from Quito, Ecuador

If we had rings in the same proportion to our planet that Saturn’s are to it, it is pretty easy to figure out what they would like like from different places on the earth. From the equator the rings would be passing directly overhead. Since you’d be looking in the same plane as the rings, all you would see is a bright line arching from horizon to horizon. 

If we travel just a little further north to Guatemala, the rings begin to spread across the sky. The earthlight illuminating the dark side of the moon is many times brighter than we are accustomed to, due to the increased sunlight being reflected from the rings.

Moving to somewhere in Polynesia on the Tropic of Capricorn—at 23° south latitude a 180° panorama gives an idea of what a magnificent sight the rings would be. The dark, oval-shaped break in the middle of the ring is the earth’s shadow. During the course of every night you would be able watch it sweep across the ring like the hand of a God’s own wristwatch. Here it is midnight, with the shadow at its fullest extent. The edge of the shadow is tinged an orangish-pink as sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere.

From Washington, DC (at 38° latitude), the rings begin to sink below the horizon, though they would still be an awe-inspiring sight as they dominate the sky both day and night.

At the Arctic Circle, the rings barely reach above the horizon. Seen here from Nome, Alaska, the brilliant rings illuminate the barren landscape scarcely more than a full moon would. Unlike the sun or moon, however, the rings neither rise nor set…they are always visible, day or night, always in exactly the same place.

Illustrations and descriptions by Ron Miller via io9.com

 His collection of manipulated images station planets, from the relatively minute Mercury to the enormous Jupiter, in place of Earth’s moon

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