Saturn is the sixth planet of the Solar System, is the second in size after Jupiter and is the unique one with a visible ring system from our planet. Its name comes from the Roman God Saturn. Form leaves from denominated outer or gaseous planets, also called jovianos by its similarity to Jupiter. The aspect most characteristic of Saturn is their shining ring. Before the invention of the telescope, Saturn was furthermost of well-known planets and, at first, it did not seem luminous nor interesting. First in observing the ring it was Galileo in 1610 but the low inclination of the ring and the low resolution of their telescope made him think at first that it was great moons. Christiaan Huygens with better means of observation could in 1659 observe with clarity the ring. James Clerk Maxwell in 1859 demonstrated mathematically that the ring could not be an only solid object but that they had to be the grouping of million particles of so large minor.

        Due to their orbital position more distant than Jupiter the old Romans granted the name to him of the father of Jupiter to the planet Saturn. In Roman mythology, Saturn was the equivalent one of the old Greek titan Cronos, God of the time. Cronos was son of Urano and Gaia and governed the world of the Gods and the men devouring to its children as soon as they were born so that they did not overthrow to him. Zeus, one of them was able to avoid this destiny and would overthrow his father to become the supreme God.

        Greek and Roman, the inheriting ones of the sumerios in its knowledge of the sky, they had established in seven the number of stars who moved in the firmament: the Sun, the Moon, and the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, the nomadic stars that at different speeds they orbited around the Earth, center of the Universe. Of five planets, Saturn is the one of slower movement, uses about thirty years (29.457 years) in completing its orbit, almost the triple that Jupiter (11.862 years). And with respect to Mercury, Venus and Mars the difference is much greater. Saturn emphasized by its slowness. If Jupiter were Zeus, Saturn had to be Cronos, the old father, who step by step rambles between stars.

        Saturn turns around the Sun to a medium range of 1,418 million km in an orbit of eccentricity 0.056, that locates the aphelion to 1,500 million km and the perihelion to 1,240 million km Saturn was in the perihelion in 1974. The period of rotation around the Sun is of 29 years and 167 days, whereas its sinódico period is of 378 days, so that, every year the opposition takes place with almost two weeks of delay with respect to the previous year. The period of rotation on its axis is short, of 10 hours, 14 minutes, with some variations between the equator and the poles.



6º planet of the Solar System


        The orbital Saturn elements are modified in a scale of 900 years by an orbital resonance of type 5:2 with the Jupiter planet, baptized by the French astronomers of century XVIII like great inégalité (Jupiter completes 5 returns by each 2 of Saturn). The planets are not in a perfect resonance, but they are the sufficiently near thing her like so that the disturbances of his respective orbits they are appreciable

        Saturn has a great number of satellites, the greater one of which, Titan is the only moon of the Solar System with an important atmosphere. The greatest satellites, known before the beginning the space exploration are: Mimas, Enceladus, Tetis, Dione, Criminal, Titan, Hiperión, Jápeto and Febe. As much Enceladus as Titan is specially interesting worlds for the planetary scientists already who in first have been liquid water to little depth of their surface to start off of the water steam emission in geysers and the second presents/displays a rich methane atmosphere and similar to the one of the primitive Earth.

        Other 30 Saturn moons have name but the exact number of satellites is uncertain to exist a great amount of objects that orbit this planet. In 2000, 12 new satellites were detected, whose orbits suggest are fragments of greater objects captured by Saturn. The Cassini/Huygens mission also has found new moons.

        The apparent disc of Titan (a blurred orange circle of darker edges something) can be seen with fan telescopes from 200 mm of opening, using for it more than 300 stable increases and skies: in his greater approaches it gets to measure 0,88 seconds of arc. The rest of the satellites is much smaller and they always seem "stars" even to great increase.

        Saturn I located it during the month of March of 1982 when it was 14 years old from the Majorcan locality of Inca (Majorca, Spain), for my it was important because during that same month I located to Mars and to Saturn, since they were in conjunction. It had been four years of which I began to be become fond of to Astronomy and therefore, was for my whole a landmark discovering it, for that reason personally is to me still pleasing observing it every year with the movement pretends slower than Jupiter.


Orbital characteristics
Average Dist. of the Sun 9.539 UA
Average radio 1.427.000.000 km
Eccentricity 0,055
Orbital period (sidereal) 29.46 years
Period of rotation 10h.39m.
Orbital speed average 9,64 km/s
Inclination of the axis 29,00°
Number of satellites 60


Physical characteristics
Equatorial diameter 120,000 km
Mass 95,15Tierra
Average density 0,69 g/cm³
Superficial gravity 0.92 Earth
Speed of escape 35,6 km/s
Average Temp. superf.: Day ---
Average Temp. superf.: Night ---
Atmosphere H2I have


                    In the page Web you can obtain more data of each one of our planets and the dwarf planets defined by the IAU of our Solar System.


Masm © Last update 2006-10-20)