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Why the ring of Saturn is visible to us and the other outer planets like Uranus ring's is invisible to us?
Question Date: 2015-02-17
Answer 1:

The outer planets’ rings have been confusing scientists for a long time! Galileo first observed Saturn’s rings in 1610 A.D. with his newly invented telescope, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that scientists realized Uranus had rings too. Soon after that, they discovered rings around Neptune and Jupiter as well. The rings are thought to be made of particles from the size of dust to the size of houses and include blocks of ice covered with rocks (like an old, dirty snowbank at the beginning of spring), rocks, and dust. Saturn’s rings have more icy blocks in them than the rings of the other planets which have mostly dust and rocks. White objects like ice tend to reflect light, while dark objects absorb it.

The colors our eyes see are the colors that an object reflects, not absorbs. So we can see things that reflect light a lot better than things that absorb light. That’s why Saturn’s icy rings are visible to us when we look through a telescope, but the darker rings of Neptune, Uranus, and Jupiter are not as visible, except from satellites and very strong telescopes such as the Hubble telescope.

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