Astronomy: Like a Diamond in the Sky

Bright with reflected sunlight, and spread across 169,300 miles of space, the rings of Saturn gleam through telescopes as one of the most glorious sights in the sky. They seem as solid and substantial as Saturn itself. But astronomers know better: the great rings are really next to nothing at all. Stars shine right through them, and when they turn edge-on toward earth they vanish completely. This should not be surprising, say Drs. Allan Cook and Fred Franklin of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at Cambridge, Mass. The beautiful rings, as the two...

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