If Earth Had Rings
Ever feel a little jealous of Saturn? I know I do.
This 3DS Max animation by Ray Prol shows what the Earth would look like if it had rings like Saturn and what kind of views of the sky one might see from various places around the world. A somber “Ave Maria” comprises the only audio. Purely speculative, it’s 3 minutes of lighthearted yet intriguing astronomical imagination.
What I think are the more interesting points this brings up are not just what would the sky look like, but how might rings like Prol illustrates have affected life on Earth? Would the sunlight they block have a major effect on how and where plant and animal species developed? What about weather? Would large swaths of ring-shadow create temperature variations? And thus also effect winds and jet streams and such?
And, should humans have developed despite any of these variances, how would such a globally-present feature as a ring system affect civilization? What sorts of mythologies and religions would have developed to explain such a phenomenon? Would they bring distant cultures closer together because of a shared view of something so much obviously larger than themselves? Would they contribute to a more cohesive world-view? The roundness of them would be clear, so the flat-earth concept may never have arisen….one wonders if technology and space travel would have been achieved much sooner, if only to better investigate the rings.
I’m sure all these speculations have already been covered in science fiction novels I have never read. My apologies to Mr. Niven et al. I just couldn’t help but wonder as I watched the video.
Animation: Ray Prol
P.S.: It has been suggested, most notably by Dr. William K. Hartmann, that the Earth did in fact have a rough ring system at one time. It would have been over 4 billion years ago, and composed of the ejected material from the collision of the early Earth and a Mars-sized protoplanet that is hypothesized to have been the origin of our Moon. It’s become the currently accepted theory….more on that here.