We explain everything about the planet Saturn, its origin and the dimensions it has. Also, its features and exploration.

Saturn
Saturn was first directly observed in 1610.

What is Saturn?

We call Saturn the sixth planet of our Solar System. Among the outer planets or gas giants, it is the second, after Jupiter. It is one of the brightest points of the terrestrial night with the naked eye. Although it has been known since ancient times, its presence did not arouse much curiosity before the invention of the telescope.

Saturn was, for ancient astronomers, the farthest planet and the one that moved the slowest around the Earth, center of the universe. First directly observed in 1610, in the low-resolution telescope invented by Galileo Galilei. But it was Christiaan Huygens who, in 1659, clearly observed his rings for the first time.

Saturn is represented in astronomical and astrological language with the symbol ♄.

See also: Mars

origin of saturn

Saturn, like the rest of the planets that make up the Solar System, has an uncertain origin.

Scientists estimate that it is product of the cooling and condensation of matter remainder of the gaseous cloud from which the Sun itself formed.

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Unlike the rocky or inner planets, however, Saturn kept its composition almost entirely gaseous.

Saturn location

Saturn - Solar System
Saturn’s orbit is nine times further from the Sun than Earth’s.

Saturn’s orbit is behind Jupiter’s. about 1,400 million kilometers from the Sun, beyond the asteroid belt that divides the Solar System. This orbit is nine times further from the Sun than Earth’s, and a full turn around the orbit takes 29 Earth years.

dimensions of saturn

Saturn It has a size of 120,536 km in equatorial diameter., and a noticeably flattened shape at the poles. This is observed by the difference with its polar diameter, of 108,728 km. On its surface are 5,688 x 1026 kg of mass, that is, almost 95 times that of the earth and almost 755 times its volume.

Despite its enormous size, its density is lower than that of water: 690 kg/m3, thus being the least dense planet known. That is, if there were an ocean big enough to submerge it, Saturn would easily float.

moons of saturn

Titan - moon - Saturn
Titan is the largest natural satellite of Saturn and the second in the Solar System.

Saturn has an indeterminate number of moons, which ranges from 53 observed satellites to 9 to be confirmed. The largest of these is Titan, the second largest moon in the Solar System. Other acquaintances are Jano, Api, Epimetheus, Prometheus, Pandora, Calypso, Dione, Helena and Phoebe.

It can help you: Natural satellites

Saturn’s rings

saturn rings
Particles in Saturn’s rings can be several meters in diameter.

Perhaps Saturn’s most distinctive feature is its rings, which extend from 6,630 km to 120,700 km above its equator. They are composed of diverse particles provided with abundant frozen water.

The size of the particles that compose them can vary enormously. Some are microscopic while the largest can be several meters in diameter. They are organized in different regions of greater or lesser density, interacting with the gravity of the planet and its many moons.

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Saturn’s atmosphere

the saturnine atmosphere is mostly hydrogen (96%) and only 3% of helium and other elements. It is estimated that inside, hydrogen is compressed until it becomes liquid.

On the contrary, on the surface of the planet clouds of ammonia crystals can be found or from ammonia hydrosulfate. This composition gives it its yellowish to orange color, organized in various stripes similar to those of Jupiter.

movements of saturn

Saturn
Saturn takes 29 Earth years to complete its translation.

Saturn has, like the other planets, presents two movements:

  • Translation. It is its movement around its solar orbit, which takes 29 Earth years to complete.
  • Rotation. It is the movement by which it rotates on itself. Its speed is uncertain, since Saturn does not have a defined surface and the atmospheric constitution changes according to latitude, rotating in different periods. Its rotation can only be calculated approximately.

Saturn’s Climate

The average temperature on Saturn is around 143 K, that is, -130.15 °C and reaching -180.15 °C in the region of its clouds. Although the interior of the planet is difficult to know, it is estimated that it has a rocky core, like Jupiter, surrounded by a layer of liquid hydrogen and then a gigantic gaseous atmosphere.

However, Saturn is in the middle of very slow compression processeswhich make it radiate more heat into space than it receives from the Sun. Inside it, like Jupiter, it is possible to witness the formation of large storms, which form observable white spots on its surface.

How has Saturn been explored?

Saturn
In 2004 the Cassini probe orbited Saturn and approached its rings.

This distant planet has been explored by humanity on several occasions:

  • 1979. The American probe Pioneer 11 flew by Saturn at a distance of 20,000 km from its upper clouds.
  • 1980. The American probe Voyager 1 approached within 124,200 km of Saturn and passing within 6,500 km of Titan.
  • 1982. The American probe Voyager 2 approached Saturn.
  • 2004. The Cassini/Huygens probe orbited Saturn and approached its rings. His mission ended in 2017.
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Saturn’s presence in culture

saturn culture hinduism
Saturn is represented with the Hindu god Shani, judge between the planets.

Saturn’s name comes from the homonymous Roman god, version of the Greek god Chronos, who devoured his own children so as not to be dethroned, according to the mythological story. He is credited with melancholy (hence the term “Saturnine”), depression and social skills, as well as perseverance, maturation and self-criticism.

In other cultures, such as the Hindu or the Sino-Japanese, Saturn is respectively designated as sani either shani, judge between the planets. In other cases he is the representative of the earth element, within the traditional scheme of the five natural elements.

References:

  • “Saturn (planet)” on Wikipedia.
  • “Saturn, the planet of the rings” in AstroMía.
  • “Saturn” at NASA Space Place.
  • “Saturn, the ringed planet”in GeoEncyclopedia.
  • “The planet Saturn, characteristics and photos” in Astrofotos.es.
  • “Saturn”in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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