Universe Guide

Which planets have rings?

You probably already know that Saturn has rings, you might already know that Uranus, the seventh planet in the solar system has rings but they are not the only planets that have rings.

Jupiter Rings

Jupiter, The largest and nearest gas giant to Earth has rings and probably not a lot of people know that. The rings are faint and were only discovered by Voyager 1 as it passed by. The rings were only discovered when Voyager 1 looked back on the planet once it past.

The rings are believed to be created from dust that comes from the moons that orbit the planet. As the rings are made of dust, they are harder to spot unlike the ice rings of Saturn. Juno.  There are four rings, each coinciding with the orbits of a number of its moons.

Rings of Neptune taken by the Voyager 1 probe.

Saturn Rings

Saturn is the most famous planet in the solar system to have a ring system. The rings were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610, the father of the telescope. Galileo didn't actually know that what he was looking at were rings, he thought they were moons of the planet.

It was not until 1659 that Dutch astronomer, Christaan Huygens with improved telescopic optics that the rings were finally identified. In 1675, a gap was discovered in the rings by Jean-Dominique Casini who had earlier discovered 4 major moons of Saturn named Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys and Dione. N.A.S.A.

Rings of Neptune taken by the Cassini probe.

Uranus Rings

The Rings of Uranus were discovered in 1977 by astronomer James L. Elliot and colleagues. They were looking into the occulation of a starSAO 158687 in the constellation of Libra. Occulation is when the light from a star is blocked by something closer. They discovered five rings with another four rings discovered later by further observation.

When the Voyager 2 space probe passed by, it took a photo of the rings of Uranus. Voyager 2 discovered a tenth ring. Voyager also showed two moons Cordelia and Ophelia. As you can see Cordelia is hidden inside the ring system. The picture below is from N.A.S.A. and copyright belongs to them.

Rings of Uranus taken by the Voyager 2 probe.

The rings of Uranus are named 6, 5, 4, Alpha, Beta, Eta, Gamma, Delta, Lambda, Epsilon. The order is not in Greek Alphabetical order in case you didn't know. 6 is the closest and thinnest ring to the planet with Epsilon being the farthest from the planet. Epsilon is also the fattest but they don't go from thinnest to fattest, Beta is the second fattest and the fifth from the planet. Britannica

Rings of Neptune

Neptune, the farthest planet from the Sun is also the farthest planet with rings. Although it was thought that Neptune had rings, it was not until Voyager 2 visited the planet in 1989 that the ring system was confirmed. It was the last of the gas giants to have a ring system confirmed. All four gas giants have rings. The rings are not all the same thickness all the way through, in some places, they are thicker than others. Image is Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech . Caltech

Rings of Neptune taken by the Voyager 2 probe.

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