A neat short video. The view from various spots on Earth, if we had a Saturn like Ring system.

I’d like to discuss what effects such an alternate Earth would have had on the social,religious,scientific development of humans.

First of all, is it possible for a small, rocky planet like ours to have such a ring system in the first place? IANAAstronomer. Would there be any problems with the rocks and ice in orbit falling regularly into the atmosphere?

That being said, I think that it would change quite a lot in the history of the world. First off, it’s like having a giant compass in the sky, so exploration is going to be much easier, faster, and extensive. Secondly, I have to think that having bright rings constantly in the sky at night that we, as a species, would be much more active during the nighttime. Maybe we would be wired to take a couple short naps throughout the day.

Does it mean that with the shadows of the rings, some thin bands of Earth would be in darkness at some point during the day?

Maybe not at some point during the day, but for days at a time, given that the shadow of the rings would travel up and down the surface of the Earth in concert with its rotation around the Sun. Who knows what kind of ancient celebrations and festivals would have popped up to mark the shadow’s passing over a given latitude?

One possible error is with the night-time shots - the shadow of the Earth should be clearly visible on the rings as seen from the ground. It’s not there.

What effect would the rings’ shadows have on our climate? Could we create artificial rings to counteract global warming?

Nice video, and so many great responses already!

I would guess that we would have discovered much more about astronomy, a bit earlier.
That the Earth is round, gravity, etc. OTOH, it looks like it would obstruct the view of the stars.

[pouts] Now I wanna planetary ring system!

Of course that means that it’s time to…
Blow up the Moon!

If we blow up the moon to get a ring, would there be any changes to the tidal effects?

Beautiful video and a fascinating idea. Perhaps the complicated calculations required to work out when various parts of the world would be in the shadow of the ring would have made mathematics advance more quickly? As for using the ring for navigation, I can see how it makes the latitude problem trivially easy, but what about longitude?

You would able to determine midnight fairly exactly due to the shadow… A sighting gizmo that measures the angle of the shadow would determine when it was precisely midnight with a fair degree of accuracy, then figure out what star is above you right then, since it will be a different star depending on where you are and the date. With the gizmo, and a catalog of what stars will be directly overhead at midnight from any given longitude, and todays date, you would be able to determine the longitude roughly.

Once the Moon remnants are scattered evenly all around the Earth, then the Moon’s tidal effect will be negligible. In the East/West directions it’ll be everywhere, rather than concentrated in one spot. The ring will be in one plane, and inclined to the equator. So there will be some residual North /South effects, but pretty small.

IIRC, the tides today are ~75% Moon-caused and about 25% sun-caused. So for round numbers the tides after the Moon became a ring would be about 25% of what they are today.

I don’t think we’d be able to see many stars, though. Think about it: when you look in the general direction of a full moon, the only other objects in the sky you can see are planets and the brightest stars. This ring system would be a helluva lot brighter than the moon, and would light up the entire night sky pretty well, I think.

I wonder what effect they would have on space exploration. Would there be a ‘rocks-free’ zone in low Earth orbit? Or would the ISS be under constant risk that a few decaying pebbles could smash into it at 10,000 MPH relative?

If they really did exist they’d be emblazoned with “COKE,” the Nike swoosh, etc.

I’m making my way through Dana Sobel’s “Longitude” right now. Would the rings allow for a similar attempt to calculate longitude by the eclipsing of certain stars at certain times by the rings as by other celestial objects?

Also, such a planet was discussed on other forums when Star Trek IX came out. Would it be true that rocks would plummet fairly regularly from the rings onto the equator.

rocks at the level of ISS would have long since decayed due to the very trace amounts of atmosphere. LEO would be pretty much rock free.

Impossible. The ring isn’t solid, its zillions of pebbles, and each pebble has a different orbital speed based on its altitude. Any drawing or symbol on it would be grossly distorted even within a few hours, and unrecognizable shortly thereafter.

That video is awesomely cool.

I think he meant that ads would be projected onto the rings from Earth, somehow. At least, that’s how I took it.

Ah, then that would be possible in the shadow, but that would take a seriously bright laser to pull off… I doubt we could do that today.

After seeing the video, I am all in favor of this course of action.