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Saturn

  • Saturn is the 6th planet from the Sun.
  • The planet Saturn has a diameter of 74,500 miles.
  • At a distance of 886 million miles, 
    it takes 29.5 years to circle the Sun.
  • One day lasts 10 hours, 39 minutes of Earth time.

Saturn imaged 10 Sept. 1997 with AP7 CCD
at Meyer-Womble Observatory, Mt. Evans, CO.

Saturn will be in opposition on November 6, 1999 and will be up all night, located in the constellation Aries. Saturn's period of revolution around the Sun is 30 years. During the month of June during the year 2000, Saturn will not be visible at all from Earth, since it will be in conjunction with Mars behind the Sun.

Facts about Saturn

A. Saturn is named after the Roman god of the harvest. It is known for its complex ring system, as well as for its moon, Titan. Saturn is almost as large as Jupiter, but has less than one-third the mass. In a large enough ocean, Saturn would float, as it has an average density of less than one.

B. Saturn lacks the striking banded cloud patterns of Jupiter. The reason is that it is just too cold. Saturn is nearly twice as far away from the sun as Jupiter. The exterior of Saturn is made up of frozen ammonia clouds. The interior is otherwise similar to Jupiter's.

C. Saturn has a large and complex system of rings. They may be from several different sources. First, the rings lie at about 2.44 the planetary radii of Saturn. At that distance, it as been calculated that any moon made of similar substance to the planet will be pulled apart by the gravitational attraction of the planet. This distance is known as the Roche Limit. Any satellite within this limit will be pulled apart. Additionally, the planet may have captured satellites, and broken them apart. There is a large gap in the rings of Saturn called the Cassini Division. The gaps in the rings are most probably due to shepherding satellites that orbit in resonance with the rings. The rings are made of myriad individual particles of rock and ice. They are 50,000 miles across and 200 yards deep.

D. Saturn has 22 moons, the most interesting of which is Titan. Titan is one of two moons in the solar system with its own atmosphere. Some planetary scientists believe that Titan is one of the most likely places in the solar system for life to be found.


Perhaps there is no object as easily identifiable with any science related to the sky as the Planet Saturn. Named after the Roman God of Agriculture, Saturn is one of the most awesome, spectacular and fascinating celestial objects. In India, Bollywood stars flock the temple of Sani Deva at Sani Singnapur, near Amednagar, where a temple is dedicated to Saturn. Saturn is the outermost of the planets visible from Earth with an unaided eye. Through a telescope, the ring of Saturn is the planet's outstanding feature. Planet Jupiter, Uranus & Neptune too have rings, but not as prominent. It was the rings of Saturn, which baffled Galileo Galilei when he first observed them in1610. Planet Saturn has over twenty moons, the largest being Titan, which is also the 2nd largest moon in our solar system. Titan is bigger than planets Mercury & Pluto. The atmosphere contents of Titan comprise of 94% Nitrogen compared to 76% of the Earth's atmosphere. The rings are visible through any standard telescope or binoculars and observers should be able to get a glimpse of Titan as well.

Manoj Pai, Ahmedabad, Gujurat, India


Earn The Astronomical League's Award for Observing the Solar System

Planetary Club Rules and Regulations

Comparative Data on the Jovian Planets and Pluto

Quantity

Jupiter

Saturn

Uranus

Neptune

Pluto

Equatorial diameter (Km)

142796

120000

50800

48600

3300-2800(?)

Density (kg/cm(3))

1330

706

1270

1700

2000?

Mass (Earth=1)

1318.7

743.6

14.6

17.2

0.0025?

Surface gravity (Earth=1)

2.643

1.159

1.11

1.21

?

Escape velocity (km/s)

60.22

32.26

22.5

23.9

?

Mean distance from sun (AU)

5.2028039

9.5388437

19.181843

30.057984

39.4

Mean distance from sun (miles)

4.836x10(8)

8.8722x10(8)

1.7837x10(8)

2.7946x10(8)

3.6642x10(8)

Mean distance from sun (10(6)Km)

778.3

1427

2869

4497.1

5900

Orbital period (Earth years)

11.867

29,461

84,013

164,793

247.7

Orbital period (Earth days)

4334.3

10,760

30,685

60,189

90,465

Orbital velocity (Km/sec)

13.06

9.64

6.81

5.43

4.74

Ave. Surface Temperature (K)

125

95

60

60

 


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