We’re very lucky to have particularly beautiful nighttime skies, with clear views of millions of stars and spectacular moonlight.
But what if our planet had a ring, too? For one, our sky would look much different. If we had rings similar to Saturn’s, it’s actually pretty easy to figure out what they would look like. Take a look at illustrations from different places on the Earth, thanks to the popular tech website: io9
From the equator the rings would be passing directly overhead. Since you’d be looking in the same plane as the rings, all you would see is a bright line arching from horizon to horizon. Here is what the rings might look like from Quito, Ecuador:
Moving to somewhere in Polynesia on the Tropic of Capricorn—at 23° south latitude a 180° panorama gives an idea of what a magnificent sight the rings would be. The dark, oval-shaped break in the middle of the ring is the earth’s shadow. During the course of every night you would be able watch it sweep across the ring like the hand of a God’s own wristwatch. Here it is midnight, with the shadow at its fullest extent. The edge of the shadow is tinged an orangish-pink as sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere.
From Washington, DC (at 38° latitude), the rings begin to sink below the horizon, though they would still be an awe-inspiring sight as they dominate the sky both day and night.
Scientists say that Earth did once have a ring. It was actually part of the formation of our moon. When a massive planet collided with Earth millions of years ago, a huge amount of debris was blown into space. All of the debris went into orbit around our planet, forming a ring. But it didn’t last long. The ring eventually came together to form our current moon.