Earth: If you like it, put a ring on it (pictures)
What if Earth had rings like Saturn? Veteran space artist Ron Miller imagines how our sky would differ.
Rings over Guatemala
Prolific space and science fiction artist Ron Miller has created a series of illustrations based on an amazing what-if scenario: what if Earth had rings like Saturn?
Actually, for a very brief period Earth may have once had rings. They could have been the result of an impact, billions of years ago, between Earth and a Mars-sized protoplanet called Theia. Debris from the collision coalesced into the moon, according to the giant impact hypothesis.
This illustration shows a view from Earth if our planet had rings that shared the same proportion as Saturn's. From Guatemala, the rings spread across the sky over an ancient temple. Reflected light from Earth, or earthlight, that illuminates the dark side of the moon is much brighter than in reality because of sunlight being reflected from the rings.
According to Miller, sky views from the equator on a ringed Earth would look like this: a bright line going from horizon to horizon directly overhead. The setting here is Quito, Ecuador, where an observer would be in the same plane as the rings.
The view from the Arctic Circle would be very different. The scene here is Nome, Alaska, where Earth's rings give little more light than a full moon. The rings would neither rise nor set, says Miller, and would be visible day and night at the same spot.