Does Earth have rings—like Saturn’s—that influence our weather? The 2014 Old Farmer’s Almanac takes a look at some of the facts and skepticism surrounding the theory.
A Strange Ringing Sensation
• In 1980, John A. O’Keefe, an employee at NASA, conceived this truly new idea from his long-standing interest in tektites (a dark-color glass rock that forms when lava cools).
• The Earth ring theory proposed that lunar debris that did not fall to Earth formed a ring around our planet, similar to the rings around Saturn, and may have brought on the Ice Ages.
• Another theory from astronomer Lucy O’Keefe Hancock, suggests that the equatorial ring around Earth is not smooth but has gaps like Saturn’s. The rings cast bands of shadows on Earth, cooling the atmosphere. The gaps allow sunlight through, warming it. The variations in air temperatures alter air pressure, causing variable weather: winds, fronts, precipitation, and other turbulence.
• There may even be a second ring—a Moon ring. It is said that this second ring is located in the plane of the Moon’s orbit, like Saturn’s Phoebe ring, and it circulates, or oscillates, through the seasons and thus can warm or cool either hemisphere.
• Skeptics believe that any rings orbiting our planet would need to be dense enough to block some of the incoming sunlight and that so far, no ring shadows or Earth rings have been detected that would be dense enough to impact Earth’s weather.
You can read the full article, written by contributor Tim Clark, in The 2014 Old Farmer’s Almanac.