Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest in the Solar System. It is one of the Gas Giants in the solar system. It is surrounded by great shining rings and is truly beautiful viewed through a telescope. Here are some fact on Saturn.
- Saturn is 890,424,928 miles (1,433,000,000 kilometres) away from the sun. That makes it the sixth planet from the sun falling behind Jupiter.
- In Roman mythology Saturn is the father of Jupiter, king of the gods. This is where Saturn got its name as it is similar to the planet Jupiter in many ways.
- Saturn has the nickname “the Ringed Planet”. This nickname is because of the large bright ring system that goes around the planet. These rings are made of ice and dust and are 20 metres thick. There are three main ones and these can be viewed from Earth using a telescope. Smaller rings were identified by spacecraft later. They go out as far as 7,891 miles (12,700km) away from the planet itself.
- Saturn orbits the sun in 29.4 Earth years. That is much slower than Jupiter’s 11.86 years.
- Saturn has a diameter of 75,098 miles (142,750 kilometres). It is 95 times the mass of Earth.
- Saturn is the planet furthest away that can still be viewed with the naked eye. This makes it the last planet people were aware of in ancient times, before technology allowed us to look further into the solar system.
- Saturn has at least 150 moons. 53 of these have been given formal names. The largest of the moons is called Titan and is the second largest of the solar system. Jupiters moon Ganymede is larger. Titan has it’s own atmosphere made up of mostly nitrogen. It is composed from water ice and rock.
- Saturn is on an axial tilt of 27 degrees. That is very similar to Earth and so Saturn experiences seasons just like we do.
- Saturn has the lowest density of all the planets. In fact its density is so low that if there was a body of water big enough, Saturn would actually float in it!
- A day on Saturn takes 10 hours and 34 minutes. This is the time it takes to turn on it’s axis.
- Saturn is not a perfect sphere but is slightly flattened. Its equator measurement is 10% less than its polar measurements. This is thought to be because of its quick rotation and its density.
- Saturn’s atmosphere is mostly Hydrogen. As you get further into the planet the layers of hydrogen get more dense until they become metallic leaving a very hot core at the centre.
- Saturn appears yellow in colour. This is due to an outer layer of ammonia crystals in its atmosphere. Underneath these crystals is a layer of clouds mostly made up of water ice. Below that are layers of sulfur ice and cold hydrogen mixtures.
- Saturn has a much weaker magnetic field than Jupiter. It is even slightly weaker than that found on Earth.
- Saturn experiences regular storms called “Great White Spots” These storms were first spotted back in 1876 and have appeared to happen every 20 to 30 years and can cover the entire planet.
- Saturn has the strongest winds in the solar system. These winds can reach a staggering speed of 1,118 miles (1,800 kilometres) per hour. Hurricane winds on Earth only reach about 246 miles (396 kilometres) per hour!
- Saturn is one of the Gas Giants. Whilst Jupiter is made up entirely of gas, scientists believe Saturn may have a solid core of rock that is roughly the same size as planet Earth.
- Four spacecraft missions have made it to Saturn. They have all hugely widened our knowledge of the planet and one craft, called Cassini, is still orbiting Saturn today.