Saturn is known by most people mainly by two things: the second largest planet on the solar system, and its spectacular ring system around it. But those aren’t just all because there are a lot more interesting things you need to know about this wonderful planet. Just check them out in this gallery and be amazed!
Saturn’s size and brightness — it is the fifth brightest object in the solar system and third brightest in the Earth’s sky — enable us to see it without the help of any special aid. Just a pair of binoculars or a small telescope will do, though, if you want to have a closer look at Saturn.
Saturn consists mostly of hydrogen and helium, which means an actual surface is non-existent. The hydrogen gets denser and denser inside, and its core consists of a hot mass.
Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune also have their own ring systems, but they’re less visible and less dazzling than that of Saturn.
Saturn is the least dense planet in the solar system — in fact, its density is much less than that of water. In contrast, the Earth is the densest planet in the solar system. Comparing the two planets, Saturn would float while Earth would sink fast.
Saturday, the seventh and final day of the week, was named after the planet as well as the Greek god Saturn. Saturday is the only day of the week that has kept its Roman name in English.
Another interesting fact about Saturn’s day: it is equivalent to 10 hours and 39 minutes. It is definitely a shorter day compared to a day here on Earth, which is equivalent 24 hours.
Rotation is the reason why Saturn is flat or oblate. Saturn rotates at 6,200 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest-spinning planets in the solar system (the other being Jupiter). It completes its rotation about every 10 and a half hours.
Saturn spins so fast that it causes its equator to bulge and its poles to flatten. Imagine a squished-out ball — that’s how you picture Saturn.
Saturn has 62 moons, 53 of which have official names. In addition, the planet also has about 150 moonlets which are scattered throughout in its ring system. Titan and Rhea are Saturn’s largest moons (to know more about them, check out our other gallery “Interesting Facts about the Other Moons in the Solar System“)
Like our planet Earth, Saturn experiences seasons due to its considerable tilt on its axis. Summer is remarkably longer in Saturn, lasting about eight Earth years — now that looks like an endless summer in Saturn!
Wonder what are the things in Saturn’s rings? Well, they are mostly composed of billions of particles of rock and ice, which range in size from fine grains to huge chunks. Some of these chunks are as big as a house.
Saturn has seven chief rings which consist of thousands of even smaller rings. The “D Ring” is the closest ring to the planet, but it gives off a very faint and thin appearance. The “E Ring” is the outermost ring from the planet, about 180,000 miles across.
So far, four spacecrafts have visited Saturn: Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and the Cassini-Huygens. Cassini is the first space probe to enter Saturn’s orbit — up to now, it still continues to orbit Saturn, transmitting pertinent data to Earth.