Saturn is the sixth planet in our solar system. It is the second biggest planet behind a clear winner in Jupiter and the fifth brightest object in the sky. First four being Sun, Moon, Jupiter and the star named Sirius. Saturn is the farthest object in our solar system that can be seen with the naked eye. The existence of Saturn has been known since the ancient periods of the Babylonians. Name of Saturn comes from the Roman God Saturn, much like other planetary names. We are going to divulge some fascinating Saturn facts that are sure to fill your interesting and fun facts quota for the day. That is the least we can do after a day of the week was named after it.
Fascinating Saturn Facts – Most Interesting
8. The Jewel of the Solar System
Saturn has very distinguishable and extensive rings around it that that makes it one of the unique and beautiful planets. Galileo discovered Saturn rings back in 1610, which eventually led to Saturn getting the moniker of “The Jewel of the Solar System”. It was thanks to that discovery that astronomers began to wonder about types of rings in other planets. Although they did not find anything similar to Saturn’s majesty, it was unraveled in the future that both Jupiter and Uranus have rings that are fainter and largely indiscernible. The Saturn rings are made of chunks of icy rocks and very small amount of debris. One of the fascinating Saturn facts is that even though its rings stretch over 75,000 miles from the planet’s outer atmosphere, they are surprisingly thin. Because they are only 20 meters thick at most, the rings appear as a perfect disk.
7. Mr. Flat
One of the fascinating Saturn facts is that the planet’s diameter at its poles is astonishingly 90% of its equator’s. Because of which Saturn is extremely squished making it the flattest planet in the solar system. The reason for that is both the great speed at which it rotates around its axis and the low density. Both these reasons are a key factor in Saturn being so flat because even though planet Jupiter rotates at a superior speed, it has a high density due to which it doesn’t become that leveled.
6. Who Let the Moon Out?
One of the more impressive things about Saturn is that it has at least 150 objects that satellite it as moons and moon lets. Jupiter, with 67 confirmed moons, still has the highest number of moons because only 53 bodies that satellite Saturn have been given names and classification of a moon. Titan is the biggest moon of Saturn and the second biggest moon in the solar system, narrowly beaten by Jupiter’s Ganymede by 116 km in diameter. Both the above mentioned moons are bigger than the planet Mercury, but Titan especially is of extreme importance.
5. The Mighty Titan
Titan is of importance because it is the only natural satellite that has a dense atmosphere which is nitrogen-rich and 10 times thicker than Earth’s atmosphere. It is made of rocks and water ice, and the surface has frozen liquid methane. Because of its dense atmosphere, Titan was thought to be bigger than Ganymede until a 1980 probe by Voyage proved otherwise. The utter importance of the planet comes from the fact that its atmosphere is viable enough for alien life to exist.
4. The Extreme Relative Motions
One of the fascinating Saturn facts is its relative motion when it comes to rotation on its axis and revolution around the Sun. It rotates at a very high speed, second only to Jupiter, to give us the second shortest day in the planets; 10 hours and 34 minutes. That speed is very high considering that it is 95 times more massive and 10 times bigger in diameter than Earth. Coming to the revolution around the Sun, it is exactly the opposite. It is one of the slowest moving planets in the solar system at just 6.5 miles per second speed because of which it takes 29.4 years and over 10,000 Earth days to orbit the Sun. Over time, the English dictionary has picked up the word ‘Saturnine’, meaning sluggish or gloomy because of Saturn’s slow speed.
3. Noisy Titan
As mentioned before, Titan has a very thick atmosphere which is very dense. The atmospheric pressure on Titan’s surface is 100 times more than Earth’s, and if a spacecraft were to enter it, it would immediately be crushed. Winds at Titan travel at a very high speed and its thick atmosphere conducts sound waves with amazing ease. All of it makes it the noisiest body in the solar system that has an atmosphere.
2. The Tilted Axis
Like Earth and other planets that have seasons, Saturn’s axis is also titled. Summer and winter in Saturn can be as long as 8 Earth years. The tilted axis is also responsible for giving different views of Saturn ring. Twice during its orbit, fully opened rings can be witnessed with an average telescope. It also happens twice during the orbit that only the outermost edge of the ring can be seen. One of the fascinating Saturn facts is that even then we need one of the most powerful telescopes to witness the 20-meter rings from so far away.
1. Far, Far Away
Only during a portion of the orbit of planet Mars, the fourth planet comes within the range of Sun’s habitable zone. After that, the planets gain enormous distances from the Sun. Mars is at 1.5 AU from the Sun.
1 AU = Earth’s Distance from the Sun = 93 million miles
Jupiter is 5.1 AU away from the Sun, and Saturn is 9.5 AU away. At its closest, Saturn is 9 AU away from the sun while at its farthest it is 10.1 AU away from the Sun. 9.5 AU is its mean orbital distance from the Sun.
Saturn is a mighty planet with numerous moons and storms that rival even that of Jupiter. If there were 7 wonders of the Universe, Saturn’s rings would be one of them.