The first thing to note is that many examples you might find on the web don’t take into account the shadows that the rings would cast on our planet, which would result in them acting as a shade barrier over a good chunk of the earth.
We have created these images with the rings exactly at our equator, meaning that they would be directly above us. Were you on the North or South Poles, however, they would not even be visible.
Our designer has gone to great lengths to pick the angle of the rings at the latitude of the city of Los Angeles to create an accurate representation of the fictional rings of Earth. So suspend your belief for a minute.
Los Angeles at night
Los Angeles at 34°N sees the rings high in the sky. In this image the shadow of earth reflects on the rings at night.
Los Angeles by day
Angelenos would get a spectacular view of the rings when looking south.
New York by day
New York sees the rings closer to the horizon.
Rio de Janeiro at dusk
View from the Tropic of Capricorn: Rio’s rings at 23°N would touch the horizon like a rainbow.
Quito by day
Quito is only a few miles from the Equator, so its rings are at 90° and only visible as a thin line.
Singapore by night
Singapore at 1°N sees the rings right over head. They appear slightly wider than in Quito.
Sydney at dusk
The rings as seen in Sydney from 34°S.
Istanbul by night
Istanbul at 41°N.
Guatemala, nearer to the equator, sees the rings very high in the sky. Fuego volcano on the right.
Iceland is near the arctic circle (65°N) so the rings are far, far south. You would only see them on the horizon.
With Southern New Zealand sitting between 41°-46°S the rings would be low on the horizon and the country would be in the shadow of the rings during much of its winter.
Shadows over Australia
The rings would cast incredible shadows on the planet as illustrated here over Australia.
This hypothetical view has of course been inspired by other posts on the interwebs. So we’d recommend to check out these more in-depth resources about the subject:
- Quantum Rocketry: A nifty thought experiment: the Earth with rings
- Bad Astronomy: What if Earth really did have rings?
- SciShow Space: Why Doesn’t Earth Have Rings?
- Gizmodo: What Life on Earth Would Look Like If Earth Had Rings Like Saturn
- Kevin Gill on Flickr: Rings over Earth