Interesting Facts about Saturn
Are you interested in our Solar System, and would you specifically like to learn some interesting facts about Saturn? Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, and it is the second largest planet in the Solar System. Only Jupiter is larger than Saturn is. Saturn is considered one of the four gas giants, along with Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. So, let’s learn some more interesting facts about Saturn!
Interesting Facts about Saturn
- The shape of Saturn is considered an oblate spheroid. This means that the planet is flat at the poles, but slightly bulges at the equator.
- In our Solar System, Saturn is the only planet that is actually less dense than water. The core of Saturn is more dense than water, but the whole planet as a whole is less dense than water.
- The mass of Saturn is approximately equally to about ninety five times the mass of Earth.
- The outer atmosphere is composed primarily of molecular hydrogen, and a small amount of helium. Specifically, the outer atmosphere is approximately ninety-six percent hydrogen, and approximately three percent helium. Scientists have also detected traces of other materials, such as ammonia, acetylene, ethane, phosphine, and methane.
- The upper clouds are primarily composed of ammonia crystals, and the lower clouds are composed of ammonium hydrosulfide or possibly water.
Saturn has a number of rings that circle and orbit the planet. The rings from further away actually look as if they are solid, but they are really a composite of different items that merely look solid from far away.
The rings extend from a little over 660 kilometers to one hundred and twenty thousand kilometers above the equator of the planet. The rings are about twenty meters thick.
The composition of the rings is mainly frozen water, and a small percentage of amorphous carbon. The precise composition is about ninety-three percent water, and approximately seven percent of amorphous carbon. Scientists actually are not quite sure how the rings originated. One theory states that the rings may have actually originally been a moon of Saturn. After the moon was destroyed, the remains formed the rings of Saturn. Another theory states that the rings might be leftover material from when Saturn was first formed.
Saturn’s Orbit and Moons
Did You Know?
As of 2010, Saturn has 62 known moons that circle the planet. The largest moon that circles the planet is called Titan. Titan is actually larger than the planet of Mercury. 53 of the 62 moons have been named.
Saturn orbits at a speed of approximately a little over nine kilometers per second. For Saturn to complete one orbit around the sun, it takes the planet approximately 29.5 years. It is over a billion kilometers away from the Sun. However, the distance between the Sun and Saturn can vary due to its eccentricity.
The majority of the moons of Saturn were named after the Titans in Greek mythology. A number of the moons are quite large, and seven of the moons are large enough to actually become spherical. The second largest moon that orbits Saturn, called Rhea, might actually have a circle of rings that orbit it. However, scientists are currently unsure about this fact.
Saturn as a Visible Planet
Want more interesting facts about Saturn? Saturn is one of five planets that can be seen without the assistance of a telescope. The other four are Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. Saturn is actually the furthest away planet that is visible without a telescope.
Saturn was the last planet to be discovered by early astronomers, and it took a considerable amount of time for early astronomers to realize that Saturn was not a star. You can recognize Saturn in the night sky due to its bright and yellow, and located at a magnitude that is usually between +1 and 0. Saturn is most easily observed when it is at opposition, which refers to a certain configuration of the planet.