Researcher: rings of Uranus discovered more than 200 years earlier than thought

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The rings of Uranus were discovered almost two centuries earlier than is commonly thought, according to new research by a British scientist.

Although the existence of rings around the seventh planet was not confirmed until 1977, the brightest one may have been seen in 1797 by Sir William Herschel then the Astronomer Royal.

Herschel, who discovered Uranus in 1781, presented a paper to the Royal Society, describing a possible ring, but was unable to confirm his observation.

Stuart Eves, of Surrey Satellite Technology, will present a paper today to the National Astronomy Meeting in Preston, pointing to similarities between Herschel’s data and known facts about Uranus’s Epsilon ring, the brightest one.

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