Rings of Saturn
Rings of glass
Saturn is the planet that keeps on giving. Encircled by 7 rings. Hexagonal hurricanes. Intriguing moons sparking thoughts of alien life.
The dynamical structure of the ring system consists of millions and millions of particles, lumps of ice and chunks of rock.
By exploring the many rings, voids, gaps, and waves emerge – each ring being shaped and kneaded by the gravity of Saturn and the countless moons orbiting the planet.
The rings are volatile, though, existing a mere moment on cosmic timescales. Fortunately, humanity can enjoy this magnificent sight for a while to come, as the rings will remain for millions of years.
The exhibition is designed and constructed by the collaborative duo FOO/SKOU.
Closest to the cloud covers of Saturn lies the narrow, almost transparent D ring. Particles in the ring are made of microscopic pieces of ice, covered by a dark layer of dust. The ring is so dim that it was only discovered when the spacecraft Voyager 1 passed by Saturn in 1980.
Every second, large quantities of ice and dust dissipates from the D ring. The material falls as rain on the upper layer of Saturn’s atmosphere. For this reason, Saturn’s rings will not last forever.
FOO/SKOU’s glass interpretation of the narrow, almost transparent ring consists of a greyish blue and light blue marbling, drawn out on a white base with an outer layer made of sand. As you approach the D ring, you will experience a rhythmic soundscape of vocal loops, emphasising the beginning and end of the circular motion through the rings.
Saturn’s C ring is dark and translucent.
The ring is constantly affected by the gravity of Saturn, which creates waves in the delicate C ring. By examining the ring’s waves and structure, scientists have gained new knowledge of Saturn’s core. Resembling seismological waves on Earth, these waves suggest that Saturn does not have a solid interior, but instead a core consisting of a viscous soup of ice, rock, and liquid gases.
FOO/SKOU’s glass interpretation of the dark and wavy C ring consists of multiple tones of dark colours, drawn out into the glass as stripes and wavy shapes, with a final glass layer rolled in sand. In the soundscape of the glass sculpture, you will hear melodical vocal loops. Move through the melodies – forward or backward – fast or slow.
If you ever look at Saturn through a small telescope, the B ring will likely be the first ring to catch your eye. Out of Saturn’s seven rings, this is the brightest. Within this dense ring, tiny dust particles and large lumps of ice orbit the planet – almost like several separate ringlets.
The outer border of the B ring is marked by the Cassini Division. A void shaped by the gravity of Mimas, one of Saturn’s moons. The edge of the B ring seems almost frayed, creating areas with structures more than two kilometres tall.
In FOO/SKOU’s glass interpretation of the B ring, more air has been blown into the ring compared to the other rings, as the B ring is the largest of the inner rings. The transparent colour on a base of opal creates a solid and clear ring. The shape has distinctive wavy areas. To convey the ring’s composition of dust particles and lumps of ice, the artists have worked with the creation of structures, crackles, and air bubbles using popcorn, rice, flour, water, and powder colours. As you move nearer the glass sculpture, you will experience vocal loops of tones combining into harmonies, like rings within rings.
By using telescopes, it was possible to distinguish some of Saturn’s rings from each other already during the 17th century. The A ring is one of the brightest rings and was therefore also one of the first separate rings to be observed.
Consisting primarily of chunks of ice of various sizes, the A ring reflects a large fraction of sunlight. Among the many icy particles, small moonlets are also hiding in the ring. Two of these, called Pan and Daphnis, has shaped characteristic dark bands in the otherwise bright A ring.
In FOO/SKOU’s glass interpretation of the bright and striped A ring, the ring’s composition of dust particles, chunks of ice, and moons is conveyed through structures and air bubbles created using popcorn, rice, flour, water, and stripes of orange and cream brown. As you move closer to the glass sculpture, FOO/SKOU has worked with vocal loops of small melodies, emerging as you move through the melodies – forward or backward – fast or slow.
Saturn’s most narrow ring is kept in place by the shepherd moon Prometheus. Prometheus’ gravity both ensures that the ring particles remain in their respective orbits and creates a spiral like structure in the F ring.
Being the most changeable of the seven rings, the shape and looks of the F ring can vary over the course of just a few hours. It is assumed that the F ring hides several moonlets, which, together with the moon Prometheus, contributes to the turbulent nature of the F ring.
FOO/SKOU’s glass interpretation of the small and dynamic F ring consist of purple and violet colours, drawn out into stripes. By partially dipping the red-hot glass in water, along with adding popcorn, rice, and flour, unique structures and air bubbles form, which convey the F ring’s composition of ice and dust. As you approach the glass sculpture you will, by interacting with the object, create vocal loops of tones that combine to create harmonies, like rings within rings.
Possibly the most mysterious of Saturn’s rings. Diffuse and almost invisible, the G ring consists of microscopic dust particles – except for one single area, where larger pieces of ice accumulate.
After the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft the icy arc of the G ring has become less puzzling. The piled-up lumps of ice might be the result of a shattered moon, now being held in check by Saturn’s moon Mimas.
FOO/SKOU’s glass interpretation of the almost invisible G ring is shaped from clear glass with a core of a light blue-grey colour. In order to give a feeling of ice and dust in the ring, air bubbles are created using popcorn, and the different layers of glass have been rolled in rice, sand, and flour – and finally dipped in water. As you move around the glass sculpture, you will generate vocal loops of small melodies. Move through these melodies to create intriguing soundscapes.
Like a cloud of tiny specks of ice, the E ring orbits Saturn as both the largest and farthest ring of them all. Observations of the E ring has revealed, that besides ice, it also consists of ammonia, silicates, and carbon dioxide.
Enveloped by the ring lies Enceladus, the sixth largest moon of Saturn. Geysers on the frozen surface of the moon constantly replenish the E ring with icy material. Today it is thought that Enceladus is the only reason for the ring’s continuous existence.
In FOO/SKOU’s glass interpretation of the large and cloud-like E ring, air has been blown into the glass in order to create a solid ring. The colour of the ring is inspired by its chemical composition. To convey the ring’s composition of dusty particles and lumps of ice, as well as geysers on the moon Enceladus, new material has constantly been added to the E ring. Popcorn, rice, sand, flour, and powder colour in the inner layers of glass, as well as water on the outer layers, create structure and air bubbles. Move closer to the glass sculpture and experience the small, rhythmic vocal loops, emphasising the rhythmic movement of the ring.
FOO/SKOU: Louise Foo and Martha Skou
Vocalists: Josephine Philip, Hannah Schneider, Maria Køhnke, Kristina Holgersen, Sharin Foo, Mathias Hjortdal, Molly Foo, Louise Foo, Martha Skou
Glassblower: Jason Blak BengtssonCeramic consultation: Helle and Anna-Lica Hansen
Software and technology: Hjalte Hjort
Installation design: Nicolaj Spangaa and Tan Vargas
Explore Planetarium’s exhibitions: Learn where we come from, see the Moon rock, and even more before or after your trip to The Dome.
At Planetarium, you can experience a real moon rock. It weighs 207 grams and is taken down from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, which was the last time humans visited the Moon.
The moon rock is reportedly the largest on display outside the United States.
The exhibition Cosmos answers one of life’s big questions ‘Where do we come from?’
We look into the recipe of life, and to find the cosmic ingredients, we need to take a closer look at both Big Bang, stars and black holes.