Saturn is the second-largest and sixth planet away from the sun. Only Jupiter is larger with a radius of 69,911 km. On the other hand, Saturn has an estimated radius of 58,232 km. The planet is unique because it has rings surrounding it. Experts define it as a gas giant due to its composure of hydrogen and helium. Conversely, Saturn lacks a definite surface. Furthermore, its rotation bulges the equator and flattens the poles hence giving it an oblate spheroid shape.
The density, temperature, and pressure rise steadily towards the core of Saturn. The list below contains some of the best fun facts about planet Saturn.
Interesting facts about Saturn
1. Least dense planet
Saturn has the lowest density in the solar system. It measures 0.687 per cubic centimeters. Conversely, earth has the highest density of 5.514 grams per cubic centimeters making it the standard measurement. The density of Saturn is less in comparison to that of water. Interestingly, it can float on a very large mass of water. Although scientists claim that there are traces of frozen water on the planet, there is doubt whether any life can survive here. That goes against the saying “there is life wherever water is”. Besides, what sort of life can survive in those harsh conditions filled with helium and hydrogen?
2. Initially, astronomers thought the rings were Saturn’s moons
Back in 1910, Galileo focused his telescope on this planet. Galileo saw the rings but he didn’t have a clue of what he was looking at. He thought that the rings were two large moons stuck to both sides of the planet. After many years, another Dutch astronomer focused a better telescope on mars. Christian Huygens’s telescope had a better resolution allowing him to discover that the moons were rings. He saw thin flat rings that were slightly inclined and touching nowhere. Huygens became also the first person to discover Titan which is Saturn’s largest moon.
3. Saturn has more moons than Jupiter
Since the 1990s we have known Jupiter to be the planet with the most moons. However, US researchers discovered more than 20 moons that were orbiting the planet. Before this discovery, only 62 moons were known. But now with 20 new moons, Saturn has a total of 82 while Jupiter has 79 natural satellites. All the new moons have an average diameter of about 3 miles. 17 of them orbits the planet in a retrograde direction.
4. Saturn is a flattened ball
Saturn spins so fast on its axis, which gives it an oblate spheroid shape. After looking at it with your own eyes, you will realize that it looks like a squished ball. The rapid spinning is the main reason why it appears like a squished ball. The distance from the equator measure 60, 300 km while the distance from the poles is 54,000 km
5. Sometimes Saturn’s rings disappear
They don’t disappear in the real sense but they look like when observed using a telescope. It takes 30 years for Saturn to revolve around the sun. That makes it extremely difficult for us to view the rings when it’s in some positions. There are times that the rings are fully visible while other times all we see are the edges. The last time this happened was in 2008-2009. It is expected to happen again in 2024-2025.