Saturn, the giant planet known for its rings, will soon lose its crowning glory. As per NASA, the gas planet’s famous interstellar hoops will soon disappear — thankfully they are not going out of existence, we just won’t be able to see them any more.

Why are Saturn’s rings disappearing?

Saturn’s rings will vanish from our planet’s view because of its tilting within its axis of orbit. Basically, the planet, as it makes its way around the sun once more, will tilt and the face we are used to — the one with the famous rings, will go out of view.

Saturn makes the journey around the sun in about 30 Earth years. Throughout this journey, based on the planet’s tilt, its rings are more or less visible, according to NASA.

“For nearly half of Saturn’s orbit, the sun shines on the south side of the rings. For the other half, it shines on the north side,” notes a NASA transcript as quoted by USA Today.

When will Saturn’s rings disappear?

Stargazers should try to enjoy the view while they can. As per NASA estimates, the rings will disappear in about 18 months, around March 2025.

Currently, Saturn’s tilt is angled downwards at nine degrees and in 2024, this will decrease to a barely visible 3.7 degrees. Finally, in March 2025, it will hit zero degrees, which as per will be akin to seeing “a sheet of paper edge-on when it’s positioned at the far end of a soccer field.”

However, we don’t need to worry, the rings will return soon. By 2032, Saturn’s angle of tilt will once again be 27 degrees, which will offer the optimal view of its rings.

Do Saturn’s rings vanish often?

They go out of view every few years, but experts estimate that they may eventually disappear out of existence. However, this won’t happen in our lifetimes, or in our children’s. It will actually take a few hundred million years.

Saturn has seven distinct rings, which are made up of ice, rocky debris and dust. As per NASA, it is believed that these are the remains of comets, asteroids and moons that were pulled apart by the planet’s powerful gravitational pull. These celestial hoops extend some 70,000 to 140,000 kilometers — the equivalent of the width of 30 Earths. Yet, in most places they are very thin — only 90 meters.

(With input from agencies)

By ting