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15 Fun Facts About Saturn
Saturn is most famous for its beautiful and extraordinary rings, but there is also much more to know about this mysterious and fascinating planet!
Named after the Roman god of agriculture, this gas giant is more than 95 times more massive than Earth, but with only one-eighth of its average density.
I hope that you enjoy reading my 15 fun facts about Saturn and find them interesting!
1. Saturn is the 6th planet from the Sun.
2. It is the 2nd largest planet in the solar system, only Jupiter is bigger.
3. The planet is one of the five that are easily visible from Earth unaided and its rings can be seen with just a small telescope (the other four that can be seen with the naked eye are Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter).
4. Like Jupiter, Saturn doesn't have a solid surface that you can stand on. Instead it is mainly made up of gasses, such as hydrogen and helium. (Although it is considered to be a gas giant, its core is probably made up of iron, nickel and rock, surrounded by a thick layer of metallic hydrogen.)
5. Saturn is named after the Roman god of agriculture, who according to mythology was the father of Jupiter.
6. Saturn orbits the Sun very slowly, but rotates on its axis very quickly. This means that a Saturn year lasts over 29 years in Earth time, but a Saturn day is just 10 Earth hours and 14 minutes.
7. Saturn is the windiest planet with winds near its equator blowing at around 1,100 miles per hour (500 meters per second).
8. The planet's rings are not solid, but instead are made up of ice, dust and rock. Some chunks are as tiny as grains of sand, but others are very large and can measure as much as half a mile (one kilometer) across.
9. The age of the rings is a mystery. It is possible that have been around since the very beginning of the Solar System, or they may have been created as recently as 100 million years ago.
10. Because the planet spins so fast, it is 10 percent fatter around its middle than it is at its poles.
11. Like Jupiter, Saturn has many moons. Although the Saturn environment is almost certainly too hostile to support life, it is possible that one of its moons, such as Enceladus, could support life. Its largest moon, Titan, is larger than the planet Mercury and the only moon in the Solar System to have a substantial atmosphere.
12. Because the planet is much farther away from the Sun than the Earth, the Sun appears much smaller than it does on Earth and only gets around 1/80th of the sunlight.
13. There have been four visits to the planet by spacecraft. Pioneer 11 was the first to visit in 1972. Voyager 1 and 2 performed flybys in the early 1980s. In 2004 the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft went into orbit around Saturn and later released the Huygens probe, which descended onto the surface of the planet.
14. Saturn is the least dense planet in the Solar System and would be able to float, if placed in water.
15. It is not just the planet that is named after the Roman god of agriculture, the day of the week, Saturday is also named after him.
Solar System Facts
- The Solar System is comprised of many different and interesting objects, including planets, moons, asteroids, and comets.
- Everything in the Solar System revolves around the Sun, which is by far the biggest object and therefore has the strongest gravitational force.
- The planets are moving quickly and would fly off into outer space if it weren't for the Sun, which forces them to orbit endlessly around it by pulling them in with its gravity.
- Scientists believe that the Solar System began from a giant cloud of dust and gas. The cloud collapsed under the force of its own gravity and eventually formed the Sun at its center. Clumps of dust and gas that were further from the center formed into the other objects that occupy the Solar System: planets, minor planets, moons, comets, and asteroids. The remainder of the dust and gas was gradually pushed out of the Solar System by the Sun's solar winds.
- The inner planets of the Solar System are made up of mainly rock and dust. The outer planets are mainly gas and water.
- Between Jupiter and Mars is an are known as The Asteroid Belt, which consists of a band of objects too small to be considered planets. These objects, which number in their thousands, vary in size from specks of dust to bigger than 100 miles across.
- The Kuiper Belt sits beyond the dwarf planet, Pluto. It is made up of millions of objects not large enough to be designated planets. The objects mainly consist of frozen gas and dust. Scientists call the objects "dirty snowballs" or "comets" - they generally orbit the sun, but occasionally one will break off, sometimes heading into the Solar System.
- The Oort Cloud lies beyond the Kuiper Belt. It is more chaotic than the Kuiper Belt, as the comets do not orbit, rather they move around chaotically at high speed.
© 2015 Paul Goodman