This is one of a collection of questions about a ringed planet I am considering using as the setting for a fantasy novel. I would like the ringed planet to be as scientifically accurate as possible, and to that end want to know what the ring would look like/what effects it would have from the surface of the planet. For all details, assume the planet is Earth, and the rings are Saturn's rings, minus the C and D rings. Saturn's ratio of planet/ring holds true for my ringed planet.

I have created a rough model of my ringed planet, complete with sun, and to scale as best as I can make it. I'm able to tilt the planet and ring to look at the effects on the surface at different times of the day/year, and this has led me to a few conclusions about how the shadow cast by the ring would interact with the surface of the planet. I would like to ask some questions about what effects this shadow might have on the atmosphere, but first, I wanted to make sure that my conclusions about the above-mentioned interactions were correct.

Below are the conclusions I have drawn from my model, followed by pictures of the model to illustrate what I mean. Could you tell me if my conclusions are correct, or if they are wrong, why?


  • The hemisphere experiencing summer would see an illuminated ring in the sky. There would be no ring-shadow on the ground.
  • The hemisphere experiencing winter would see a dark (invisible?) ring in the sky. Much of that hemisphere would be covered in the ring-shadow, save for a band near the equator. This band would get smaller closer to mid-day. There would also be a small un-shadowed patch near the pole for a few hours around noon.
  • At midnight, the planet's shadow would be centered on the ring, blotting out a good portion of it. It would be visible at the sides (and illuminated during the summer).
  • As the planet rotates during the night, the planet's shadow would first come into view at one end of the ring, and slowly creep up it. Close to midnight, the full shadow would be in view, and a portion of the ring would appear again on the other side of the planet's shadow. At midnight these two visible portions would be equal (as stated above). One would then grow as the other shrank. The planet's shadow would ultimately go down the other side of the ring, finally disappearing somewhere around dawn or shortly thereafter.

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Note: I am aware of this article. While the pictures are nice, they do little to answer my questions. None of them are during winter (showing the ring shadow), and I've seen several people on Worldbuilding suggest that the rings would actually look completely different. In addition, the final picture goes completely against the model I have created: in my model, the planet's shadow goes straight across the ring. You cannot see the rounded silhouette as the picture in the linked article suggests. Hence this question. I would like a definitive guide on what is scientifically-correct.



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