Saturn

Image Credit: NASA
Saturn: Saturn is best known for its rings, but there is much more to this world. Saturn is the most distant of all the naked eye planets, and is 746 million miles away at its closest to Earth. This distance can greatly change due to Earth’s orbit and Saturn’s 30 year orbit. Since Saturn is a visible planet, it has been watched since ancient times and gained a certain amount of prominence. For example, Saturn has the day Saturday dedicated to it. Saturn rotates so quickly that it noticeably bulges at the equator. Saturn’s day is less than half of Earth’s at 10 hours and 42 minutes. The atmosphere of Saturn is a complex place and has maximum recorded wind speeds of 1,118 miles per hour. Saturn is mainly composed of hydrogen and helium (like our Sun and Jupiter) and has many layers including liquid hydrogen, liquid metallic hydrogen and even a rocky Earth-sized core. Temperatures at this core soar around 21,150 degrees fahrenheit. The exact origins of Saturn's rings is still a mystery but a common theory is that moons and comets broke up into increasingly smaller debris and were compressed over time. The rings spin at thousands of miles per hour but there is no one speed. The farther out an object orbits a planet, the faster it goes. This means that ring particles closest to Saturn move much slower than the ring particles on the edge of the rings. Between Saturn’s atmosphere and its rings, it is a truly fascinating planet.

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