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Illustration of Saturn's rings from Huygens' book

Illustration of Saturn's rings from Huygens' book

V700/0081

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Saturn's ring. Historical artwork of Saturn's ring by the Dutch physicist and astronomer Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). In 1655, Huygens discovered that what Galileo had called Saturn's ears was in fact a ring. He published this discovery in a coded form in 1656. He reprinted the code (seen above Saturn) in Systema Saturnium of 1659, along with a clear statement of his discovery (below Saturn). Part of this statement was that Saturn has a "ring, thin, flat, nowhere attached". It is now known that Saturn has a number of flat rings formed from numerous tiny ice-covered rocks. The rings are held in orbit around the planet's equator.

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