Saturn is one of the largest planets in our solar system. What makes Saturn unique is its fabulous ring system, it’s a gas giant, and you can observe it with your own eyes. So, let’s not waste any more time, lets head for the facts. Here are 101 facts about Saturn.
Fact 1: In 1979, NASA’s Pioneer 11 space probe became the first spacecraft to fly by and study Saturn up close.
Fact 2: Saturn’s volume is 8.2713×10^14 km3. That number written out looks something like this: 827,130,000,000,000. That’s 827 trillion, yes trillion, cubic kilometers.
Fact 3: In September 1979, NASA’s Pioneer 11 probe made the first flyby of Saturn, passing 20,000 kilometers above the planet’s cloud tops.
Fact 4: At least a 15-mm-diameter telescope is needed to see Saturn’s rings from Earth.
Fact 5: NASA’s Voyager 1 was the first probe to send back high-resolution images of Saturn, its rings, and moons.
Fact 6: Saturn’s composition by volume is as follows: 96.25% Hydrogen (H2), 3.25% Helium (He). The final 0.5% is made up of Methane (CH4), Ammonia (NH3), Hydrogen Deuteride (HD), Ethane (C2H6)
Fact 7: The volume of Saturn is 764 times more than the Earth’s. So, basically, 764 Earths could fit comfortably inside Saturn.
Fact 8: Winds around Saturn’s equator can reach speeds of up to 1,800 km/h. For comparison, the fastest ever recorded wind speed on Earth was 407.164 km/h. It was recorded on Barrow Island, Australia, on April 10th, 1996, in the middle of Tropical Cyclone Olivia.
Fact 9: Saturn’s magnetosphere extends outwards from its surface for 9.5 times the distance of Saturn’s diameter. That’s roughly 1.1 million km.
Fact 10: Saturn is the fifth brightest object in the solar system, and is easily seen with binoculars or a small telescope.
Fact 11: Giovanni Domenico Cassini discovered four of Saturn’s moons including Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys, and Dione.
Fact 12: The escape velocity from Saturn’s gravity well is 35.5 km/s. For comparison, Earth’s escape velocity is 11.186 km/s.
Fact 13: Saturn is the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Cronus. According to Greek mythology, the Titan Cronus, who, fearing that he would be overthrown by one of his children, ate each one upon their birth.
Fact 14: Saturn gets its name from the Roman god of agriculture and wealth. Its astronomical symbol is ♄. It’s meant to represent a sickle.
Fact 15: Every so often, Saturn is occulted (covered) by Earth’s Moon
Fact 16: The closest distance Saturn gets to the Sun while orbiting, perihelion, is 1,352 million km. That’s 9 times the distance Earth is from the Sun!
Fact 17: On 15 September 2017, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft performed the “Grand Finale” of its mission. This Grand Finale involved a series of complex maneuvers through the gaps between Saturn and Saturn’s inner rings.
Fact 18: Saturn’s axial tilt is 26.7°. This is 3.2° more than Earth’s axial tilt.
Fact 19: Due to ammonia crystals in its upper atmosphere, Saturn has a pale muddy yellow hue.
Fact 20: Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and the second-largest moon in the solar system, was discovered by Christiaan Huygens on March 25, 1655.
Fact 21: A liquid metallic hydrogen layer that conducts electricity is thought to be the source of Saturn’s magnetic field.
Fact 22: Saturn’s average diameter is 116,464 km. Which is almost exactly 9 times the width of Earth.
Fact 23: Saturn’s apparent magnitude in the night sky is between −0.55 to +1.17. Anything below +6.5 is visible to the naked eye and the lower the number the easier the object is to see. So an object with an apparent magnitude of -5 would be far brighter than an object with an apparent magnitude of +5.
Fact 24: Saturn’s magnetic field is about 20 times less powerful than Jupiter’s magnetic field.
Fact 25: Saturn’s Synodic period, the amount of time that it takes for an object to reappear at the same point in relation to the Earth and the Sun, is 378.09 days.
Fact 26: Saturn’s inclination from the ecliptic, the difference in degrees between Saturn’s orbital plane and Earth’s orbital plane, is 2.485°.
Fact 27: Cassini’s photographs helped astronomers discover a previously unknown ring that sits between Saturn’s G and E rings.
Fact 28: Saturn turns on its axis once every 10 hours and 34 minutes giving it the second-shortest day after Jupiter.
Fact 29: The Cassini Spacecraft orbited Saturn for over 13 years from 1 July 2004 until it’s destruction on September 15, 2017.
Fact 30: Saturn’s equatorial diameter is 120,536 km. This is roughly 9.5 times the width of Earth.
Fact 31: Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, makes up over 90% of the total mass that orbits Saturn. And that includes the ring system.
Fact 32: Saturn’s average distance from the Sun is 1,433.53 million km (9.5826 AU). 9.5 times the distance is Earth is from the Sun.
Fact 33: Titan is Saturn’s largest moon.
Fact 34: Saturn has a total mass of 5.683 × 10^26 kg. Written out this huge number looks like this: 568,300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg. That’s one big number. To give you some kind of perspective, that’s about 95 times more massive than Earth.
Fact 35: The furthest distance Saturn gets from the Sun while orbiting, aphelion, is 1,514 million km. That’s over 10 times the distance Earth is from the Sun!
Fact 36: Saturn was named after the Titan Saturn, the father of Jupiter, king of the gods.
Fact 37: Saturn’s core reaches a scorching temperature of 11,700 °C. That over double the temperature of the Sun’s surface which is 5,505 °C.
Fact 38: Saturn’s moon Titan is the only moon in the solar system to have a substantial atmosphere.
Fact 39: Saturn has the most rings in its ring system of all the 8 planets in our solar system combined.
Fact 40: A south pole storm is thought to have existed for billions of years.
Fact 41: William Herschel discovered Enceladus while he was using the 40-foot telescope at the Observatory House in Slough, England. He discovered the moon on the 28th of August 1789.
Fact 42: Saturn has 82 moons orbiting it.
Fact 43: Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun after Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter.
Fact 44: Light from the sun, on average, takes just over 75 minutes to reach Saturn. Which is an astonishingly long time given that light travels at a speed of just under 300,000 kilometers per second.
Fact 45: Saturn completes a journey around the Sun once every 29.4 years.
Fact 46: Saturn’s magnetosphere deflects the Sun’s solar wind particles and creates aurorae at the Saturnian poles similar to on Earth.
Fact 47: Saturn’s surface area is 84 times bigger than that of the Earth’s area.
Fact 48: Saturn’s Moon Titan is larger than the planet Mercury.
Fact 49: The difference between Saturn’s closest and farthest approach from the Sun is 162 million km. That’s a 12% difference.
Fact 50: NASA’s Pioneer 11 probe took the first images of Saturn and a few of its moons. Unfortunately, the image resolution and quality were so poor only large surface features could be made out.
Fact 51: At present, 82 of Saturn’s moons have formal designations.
Fact 52: Saturn has the highest number of moons of all the planets in the solar system. Saturn has 3 more moons than Jupiter which has 79 Known moons.
Fact 53: The Cassini-Huygens probe consisted of two separate parts. NASA’s Cassini orbital probe and ESA’s Huygens lander.
Fact 54: A persistent hexagonal vortex wave pattern surrounds Saturn’s north pole. It was discovered by the Voyager 1 probe and the structure is far larger than the diameter of the Earth.
Fact 55: Many of Saturn’s moons are very small with 14 being between 10-50 km in diameter and 34 being less than 10 km in diameter.
Fact 56: Saturn’s moon Enceladus has a surface completely made from ice.
Fact 57: Saturn is a ‘gas giant’ like Jupiter.
Fact 58: Saturn’s surface gravity is 10.44 m/s2. Not much more than Earth’s surface gravity which equals 9.807 m/s².
Fact 59: The surface temperature on Saturn, at 1 bar atmospheric pressure, is a rather chilly −139 °C.
Fact 60: Saturn’s rings are made up of particles that range in size from specks of dust no more than 1/10th of a millimeter across to hulking 10 m wide boulders the size of houses.
Fact 61: NASA’s Voyager 2 probe flew by Saturn in 1981. 1 Year after is sister probe Voyager 1.
Fact 62: The planet is made up predominantly of hydrogen and helium plus other trace elements.
Fact 63: Saturn spins so quickly on its axis that the planet flattens itself out into an oblate spheroid (A flattened ball).
Fact 64: Traditionally, most of Saturn’s moons have been named after Titans from Greek mythology.
Fact 65: Saturn is the second-largest planet in our solar system after Jupiter.
Fact 66: The equatorial rotational velocity on Saturn, or the speed at which the planet rotates around its axis measured from the equator, is a rather quick 9.87 km/s.
Fact 67: Every Saturnian year, 29.5 Earth years, Saturn experiences one or more giant storms that encircle the planet. The main vortex of these planet encompassing storms is often far larger than the diameter of Earth. One of these giant storms was named The Great White Spot.
Fact 68: There is a difference of 11,808 km Between Saturn’s Equitorial diameter and Polar diameter. This is a difference of nearly 11%. This makes Saturn appear like a flattened ball.
Fact 69: In November 2006, NASA’s Cassini probe photographed a “hurricane-like” storm wrapped around the South pole. It had a clearly defined eye just like a hurricane on Earth. Except this eye was big enough to swallow the moon!
Fact 70: Titan is also the second-largest moon in the solar system. The largest moon is Jupiter’s Ganymede
Fact 71: Jupiter and Saturn together make up 92% of the total planetary mass in our solar system.
Fact 72: Saturn has a near-perfect 5:2 orbital resonance with Jupiter.
Fact 73: Saturn’s surface area is 4.27×10^10 km2. Here’s that number written out in full: 42,700,000,000. That’s 42.7 billion square kilometers. That’s 287 times the Land surface area on Earth!
Fact 74: Saturn is known as Φαίνων Phainon in ancient Greek.
Fact 75: With a density of just 0.687 g/cm3 Saturn could easily float on water. If you could find a big enough ocean to put it in! For reference, the density of water is 0.997 g/cm3.
Fact 76: Jupiter has a magnetic field that is twenty-times stronger as Saturn’s magnetic field.
Fact 77: There is evidence that Saturn has hundreds of moonlets with diameters of 40–500 meters hidden within its rings.
Fact 78: Life could possibly exist on Saturn’s moon, Titan.
Fact 79: It has been suggested that it rains diamonds deep within Saturn’s atmosphere.
Fact 80: Saturn is called ‘Shabbathai’ in ancient Hebrew.
Fact 81: The sides of Saturn’s north pole hexagon, a persistent giant polar storm, is about 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long. This is longer than the Earth is wide. Earth is 12,756.2 km wide.
Fact 82: The 4 robotic spacecraft to visit Saturn are Pioneer 11, Voyager 1 and 2, and the Cassini-Huygens mission.
Fact 83: Saturn has the largest and most prominent ring system of all the planets in the Solar System
Fact 84: Saturn’s upper atmosphere has a banded pattern in visible light that’s very similar to Jupiter’s band patterns. However, Saturn’s bands are fainter and wider close to the equator.
Fact 85: Saturn has a very simple symmetrical cone-shaped magnetic field that stretches back behind from the planet away from the Sun.
Fact 86: On 1 July 2004, the NASA/ESA Cassini–Huygens probe entered orbit around Saturn.
Fact 87: In July 2006, images of hydrocarbon lakes near Titan’s north pole were beamed back to Earth for the first time.
Fact 88: Saturn’s polar diameter is 108,728 km. This is roughly 8.5 times the width of Earth.
Fact 89: Saturn’s average orbital speed is 9.69 km/s. For comparison, at that speed, you could travel the 344 km between London and Paris in 35.5 seconds! That’s just over half a minute.
Fact 90: Saturn has an equatorial diameter that is 9.5 times that of the Earth’s, so it’s pretty big!
Fact 91: Voyager 2 experienced technical problems during its flyby of Saturn. The probe’s camera platform got stuck in the same position for two days so some planned images couldn’t be taken.
Fact 92: On 6 June 2013, scientists reported that they had detected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the upper atmosphere of Titan, which could possibly be a precursor for life.
Fact 93: You can see Saturn with your naked eye… but obviously, you need to have a pretty good idea about where you need to look in the sky and when.
Fact 94: NASA’s Voyager 1 probe flew by Saturn in 1980.
Fact 95: Saturn is thought to have a core made up of similar materials to Earth’s core. Predominantly Iron and Nickel. However, Saturn’s core would be vastly denser, given the huge size of the planet and the gravitational pressure it creates.
Fact 96: Saturn has a south polar vortex. Something no other planet in the solar system has.
Fact 97: Saturn’s core is enveloped by a deep layer of metallic hydrogen. Metallic Hydrogen is a highly pressurized form of liquid and/or solid hydrogen that can conduct electricity like a metal.
Fact 98: Only four robotic spacecraft have visited Saturn.
Fact 99: Saturn radiates off 2.5 times the amount of energy than it gets from the Sun.
Fact 100: Saturn’s rings are mostly made of ice particles, rocky debris, and dust.
Fact 101: The rings stretch out more than 120,700 km from the planet’s surface, but some are amazingly thin at only 20 meters thick in places.