Cosmic Biology pp 225-251 | Cite as


  • Louis Neal Irwin
  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


Saturn was the furthest planet from Earth in the known Solar System in 1655, and the crude telescopes available at the time revealed an enigma. At times, the planet looked like it had "handles" on either side, but at other times the handlelike bulges disappeared. Christiaan Huygens, born into a wealthy Dutch family of high status, was given an allowance by his father to do nothing but pursue his interest is mathematics, mechanics, optics, and astronomy (What a dad!). With a telescope much improved over earlier versions, he deciphered enough detail about far away Saturn to propose that the handles were actually rings encircling the planet, seen sometimes at an angle facing Earth, and at other times viewed edge-on from Earth to the point of becoming invisible.


Solar System Liquid Hydrocarbon Impact Crater Hydrocyanic Acid Liquid Ethane 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis Neal Irwin
    • 1
  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch
    • 2
  1. 1.The University of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA
  2. 2.Washington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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