Planet Overview - Saturn
In the solar system, Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun. It is also the second largest planet in the solar system following Jupiter. In 1610, Galileo first discovered Saturn with his telescope, but he didn't realize it had rings until looking at it a second time. Find out more cool info about this ringed planet right here!
Saturn - The Planet
In order to go around the Sun once, Saturn takes 30 Earth years. Since it rotates twice as fast as Earth, its winds can reach speeds of 1,120 miles! That could blow away anything on Earth. Saturn is made up of only hydrogen and helium gas, which makes it very light compared to Earth. It has a density of 0.69. This light-as-a-feather planet has 30 moons, more than any other planet. Titan, one of Saturn's moons, is the second largest moon in the solar system. The most familiar of Saturn's moons include Rhea, Iapetus, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Hyperion and Phoebe.
Saturn - The Rings
Saturn is known for its rings - all together it has seven. The ones that we can see from earth (using a telescope) are the two big rings and one faint one. We can see Saturn's rings because they are the brightest when compared to any other planet. From Earth we see these beautiful rings that look like hula-hoops, but Saturn's rings are actually many particles all going around in orbit and aren't solid at all. Scientists say that the rings are composed mainly of ice particles. The rings are 250,000 km in diameter and are less than a kilometer thick. But Saturn is not the only planet with rings. In 1977, it was discovered that Uranus, Neptune and Jupiter all have rings around them but none are as visible as Saturn's many rings.
Saturn - Major Discovery
NASA, the American space agency, first visited Saturn with Pioneer 11 in 1979. This was followed by Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Today, a NASA spacecraft called Cassini circles Saturn and will be doing this until 2007. On March 9, 2006, news came that water had been found on one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus. Pictures were taken showing that water was erupting out of the surface of the moon. This is significant because scientists have been looking to find other planets that may support life.
Saturn - Did U Know?
- In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture. In Greek mythology, Saturn is Cronus, the son of Uranus and Gaia. He is also the father of Jupiter who is also known as Zeus.
- Ever wonder where the word Saturday comes from? Yup, your fave day of the week is also named for the god of agriculture.
- Saturn could fit 750 earths into it.
- One day on Saturn is about 10 Earth-hours.
- To see Saturn in the night sky, look to the southeast and look for the brightest star. That's Saturn.