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:
- The rings are less than 10 miles thick, made up of space debris
- There are about 1000 ringlets.
- 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.
- Many of the rings have shepherd moons or satellites.
- 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):
- 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
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