Saturn's rings, 1793.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 26cm x 32cm

Saturn's rings, 1793.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Engraving from the periodical 'Philosophical Transactions' (1794), from an article called 'Observations of a Quintuple Belt on the Planet Saturn' by William Herschel (1738-1822). Saturn was observed through a telescope by Galileo in 1610, but its rings were not identified until 1659, by Christiaan Huygens. William Herschel was an amateur astronomer and telescope maker who, becoming recognised as an expert in the field, was made a fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1782, Court Astronomer to King George III after his discovery of the planet Uranus. Herschel also made detailed observations of Saturn, describing the presence of a 'quintuple belt' on its innermost ring, as well as discovering its sixth and seventh moons, Enceladus and Mimas.

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