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Solar System

Saturn

Voyager probes, Roman god of agriculture, diameter of Saturn, largest planet, astronomical unit

Deeper web pages:

>  Exploration of the Saturnian System

>  The Interior of Saturn

>  The Atmosphere of Saturn

>  The Magnetosphere

>  The Ring System

>  Moons

Saturn, sixth planet in order of distance from the Sun, and the second largest in our solar system. Saturn’s most distinctive feature is a giant system of rings that surrounds the planet at its equator, stretching over twice the width of the planet itself. The first person to see the rings was the Italian scientist Galileo in 1610, using one of the earliest telescopes. Space probes have greatly increased our knowledge of Saturn, its rings, and its many moons. Flybys by the Pioneer and the Voyager probes led to the Cassini orbiter that began studying Saturn in detail in 2004. As seen from Earth, Saturn appears as a yellowish object—one of the brightest in the night sky. The planet is named for Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture.

Saturn takes about 29.5 years to orbit the Sun at an average distance of 1,435 billion km (891.5 million mi), or about 9.59 astronomical unit (AU). An AU is equal to the average distance between the Earth and the Sun, or 150 million km (93 million mi). Saturn rotates on its axis in about 10.5 hours and is tilted at about 27°, giving the planet distinct seasons.

The diameter of Saturn is about 121,000 km (75,000 mi), and its mass is equal to the mass of about 95 Earths, making it the second largest planet in our solar system after Jupiter. Saturn is 10 percent wider at its equator than at its poles and has a more oblate (flattened sphere) shape than any other planet.



Article key phrases:

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