All About Saturn
Almost all of Saturn's moons are named after Greek
Of all the planets in the solar system, Saturn is surely the most stunning.Saturn was named after the Roman God Saturnus or in Greek, Kronus father of Zeus. Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system, only Jupiter is bigger.Saturn is the 6th planet from the Sun. It lies between Jupiter and Uranus. It spins very quickly, one day on Saturn lasts for just over 10 hours.Like Jupiter, Saturn is a gas giant made of mainly hydrogen, with a tiny rocky core. Very high winds cause bands to be seen in the tops of the clouds. But the most startling thing about Saturn is obviously its beautiful ring system.The rings were first observed by the Italian astronomer Galileo in 1610. But he could not grasp the idea of a ring system; he thought that Saturn was actually 3 planets.It was not until 1655 that the Dutch astronomer, Christiaan Huygens, first recognised a ring system.The rings stretch from 6,600km to over 120,000km above Saturn's equator. But on average the rings are less than 1km in thickness.The rings are made from billions of tiny particles of silica rock, iron oxide and ice particles ranging in size from specks of dust to the size of a small car. They are probably the result of a small moon that broke up near to Saturn.There are gaps in the rings, the largest of which can be seen by Earth's telescopes, the Cassini division. Strange unexplained ‘spokes' have been seen in the rings.Saturn takes almost 30 Earth years to make one orbit around the Sun, and as it does so, our view of the ring alters. From being wide open. To seeing them edge on.Saturn was first visited in 1979 by the Pioneer 11 space probe on its grand our of the solar system.In 1980 and 1981 it was visited by Voyagers 1 and 2. These two probes sent back the first really detailed images of Saturn.Then in 2004 the Cassini-Huygens probe went into orbit around Saturn.It has toured some of Saturn's 57 Moons. The largest of which - Titan - is the only moon in the solar system to have a dense atmosphere. Almost all of Saturn's moons are named after Greek titans.Lord of the rings you might say.
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