How was Saturn’s rings discovered?

Saturn's rings are widely discussed - but who was the first to discover them

So who was the first person to observe Saturn’s rings?

In 1609, Galileo introduced the first astronomical telescope. It allowed for opportunities to study the night sky. Although, the astronomical telescope was invented in 1609, it was not until a year later in 1610 where he first observed Saturn. Although Galileo was able to see that there was something different with Saturn, he was unable to determine what the rings were because his telescope was too tiny. He mistakenly guessed that the rings were two large moons on either side of Saturn. Later, Galileo concluded that the rings were “arms” of some sort.

It wasn’t until 1659 when an astronomer by the name of Christiaan Huygens discovered that the armed like features on Saturn were actually a ring system. He was able to discover this through improved telescope optics. He described the rings as a flat, circular disk.

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