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astronomysaturn (Saturn ** )

Astronomy — The Planet Saturn


  • Distance from the Sun:  886,000,000 miles
  • Time for one solar circuit, in Earth years:  30 years
  • Time for one axial rotation, in Earth hours:  11 hours
  • Diameter:  75,000 miles
  • Orbital speed: approximately 21,000 miles per hour
  • The density of Saturn is very low, being 0.7 gram per cubic centimeter.  This is less dense than water.  Thus, this planet would float in a tub of water if you could find a tub big enough to contain the planet and enough water to fill that huge tub.
  • Even though the winds on Saturn blow 3 times faster than the winds on Jupiter, they are less evident because the storms occur deeper in the cold atmosphere, below a layer of methane haze.
  • Saturn is the most OBLATE planet.  A planet’s oblateness is defined as the distance by which the equatorial diameter exceeds its polar diameter.
  • Saturn’s rings:
    1. The rings are less than 10 miles thick, made up of space debris
    2. There are about 1000 ringlets.
    3. Why don’t the rings drift apart?  A ring particle that wanders away is shepherded back into the ring by the gravitation of the rings’ moons.
    4. Many of the rings have shepherd moons or satellites.
    5. The radial spokes seen on the rings are caused by Saturn’s magnetic field pulling electrostatically-charged dust up and out of the ring plane.  The dust then produces shadows on the rings we see as spokes.
  • Saturn’s moons (the number grows every year, but there were 63 known in 2018):
    1. Titan
      • As big as the planet Mercury
      • Has its own nitrogen-rich atmosphere
      • Has a surface pressure 1.6 times greater that Earth’s
      • Possibly has a methane/ethane ocean up to 1 kilometer deep
    2. Pan

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