#BAFact: To scale, Saturn's rings are flatter than a sheet of paper.
Saturn's magnificent rings are composed of countless tiny particles of water ice, each orbiting the gas giant planet. The rings are huge
: nearly 300,000 km (180,000 miles) across! But they're also amazingly flat. Observations indicate they are only 10 meters thick in some places, up to a kilometer in others.
Using the 1 kilometer number, that makes the width-to-thickness ratio of Saturn's rings 1 in 300,000, or 0.0000033.
Now look at a standard piece of US writing paper. It's 8.5 x 11 inches (22 x 28 cm) in width/height, and only 0.004 inches (about 0.1 mm) thick. That gives it a width-to-thickness ratio of roughly 0.00036.
That means that, to scale, a sheet of paper is 100 times thicker than Saturn's rings
! Incredible, that something so sprawlingly vast can also be so delicately thin.
_[Saturn image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2012/12/20/saturn_s_night_side_cassini_sees_rings_and_planet_in_stunning_picture_photo.html