I'm building a ringed world with it's rings composed of low albedo material to try and dampen the impact the rings have during night time (that is, trying so not every single night that the rings are visible looks like there was a full moon). In spite of how dark or bright these rings are, I'm aware they'll reflect a considerable amount of light. Apart from the rings, the planet has a satellite slightly smaller than the moon and with an overall lower albedo.

I've found myself quite interested in the development of a classical, greek-like mythos for the world lately. Wanting to give it a very celestial/cosmic approach I'm faced with the realization that it might not be that easy looking up to the night sky to wonder which of the luminous dots is your god given the constant source of light in rocky belt form. I could easily (and logically from my point of view), make yet another deity for the pantheon out of the ring. The thing is, I'd like for the inhabitants of the world to be able to distinguish, if possible, certain of the system planet's characteristics to associate them with the correspondent deity. Which would take either exceptional telescopic vision (not what I'm looking for) or a very early development of some kind of telescope, which could (potentially?) ruin the whole base of the religion since the mighty and mysterious heavenly lights would be uncovered to be nought but floating rocks.

Thus, two main questions arise:

-How big of an impact would rings with low reflectivity have on naked eye observation of the night sky?

-Could the believe in these celestial mythologies be further developed instead of destroyed by the scientific advances brought by observatory devices such as the telescope? Are there historical, real cases of something similar happening?

  • $\begingroup$ Had you decided if the rings are on the plane of the planet's orbit, or off a bit? Just curious. $\endgroup$ May 24 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ The rings orbit the planet on the equatorial plane, the planet itself is tilted more or less the same as the Earth is. @JiminyCricket. $\endgroup$ May 24 at 15:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Could the believe in these celestial mythologies be further developed instead of destroyed by the scientific advances brought by observatory devices such as the telescope?" Sorry, what? Myths are pieces of artistic literature. First, myths and science are true in fundamentally different ways. Science cannot uphold or destroy myths any more than it can uphold or destroy art. You wouldn't expect science to say that Rafael's La Fornarina is indeed beautiful, or that it is aesthetically displeasing. It's like asking whether ornithology can uphold or refute G. M. Hopkins's Windhover. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 24 at 19:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @ElNitromante: Mythologies are not religions. (See this answer for my take on this.) In particular, the Greek mythology we all know and love was not the ancient Greek religion. For a more familiar example, consider the substantial difference between the Christian religion (mass, feast days, fasts, confession, communion, baptism, etc.) and the luxuriant mythology (Esther, Elijah, Samson, Delilah, Solomon, Batsheba, Ruth, etc.) which Christianity shares with Islam and the Jewish religion. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 24 at 22:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please remember to limit yourself to one question per post. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 25 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


No Hiding Rings

Assuming low albedo, either there is a large swath of the sky which is missing starts or a big ol' line in the daytime. It is not going to take much to figure out that there are rings. Well, that there is something which affects the appearance of stars and potential fixtures during the day.

Myths and Celestial Items

Myths, legends, and astrology (yes, not astronomy) serve a few purposes. Throwing a ring in there will certainly affect these.

Sometimes they are explanations to why the world is: maybe the ring is a bridge or wound or stream. Whatever fits in the worldview of the cultures generating the myth. As a note, calling it a wound would actually fit with advancements in science: something broke up to make the ring...

Sometimes myths and legends help people remember- like some tellings of tale of Orion corresponding to yearly cycles involving the constellation. (When Orion is... It is time or best to...) The rings can play in this, depending on how the shadow is cast on the planet, different behaviors may be a good idea. This stands up to science, especially if a deity placed the ring there specifically to warn of things or cause these behaviors.

Sometimes these are used for divination, either personal or during specific circumstances. Maybe a star disappearing or reappearing has special significance. This is not going to stand up to scientific scrutiny well.

Has Science Ever Supported Myth?

Not to my knowledge. Some things, like the idea that life originated or was created first in the ocean, is supported (See the book of Genesis). This isn't to say that it is 100% supported. I am unaware of 100% support for any myths from Science.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .