SATURN is notably the most unique among the planets – adorned with thousands of beautiful ringlets.
But how many moons does the planet have? And what else should we know about this fascinating planet – here's all the facts.
How many moons does Saturn have?
Saturn has 82 moons.
However, only 55 of these moons are confirmed and named.
Another 29 moons are awaiting confirmation of discovery and official naming.
These moons rangle massively in size from the giant moon, Titan which is bigger than the planet Mercury to others which are as small as a sports arena.
Titan, the planet’s largest satellite, has a rare molecule with a similar chemical structure to DNA in its atmosphere, astronomers say.
This means it may have the ideal conditions to support alien life.
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The finding suggests a salty ocean beneath Titan’s icy crust may contain further building blocks of life, potentially making it a paradise for fledgling ETs.
Rosaly Lopes, a Nasa research scientist, said: “We’re trying to figure out if Titan is habitable.”
The experts say the types of molecules that may sit on Titan’s surface could be the same ones that formed the building blocks of life on Earth billions of years ago.
Back then, when methane filled Earth’s air instead of oxygen, conditions could have been similar to those on Titan today, scientists suspect.
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Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, behind Jupiter.
Like Jupiter, Saturn is a giant gas planet and is composed of similar gases including hydrogen, helium and methane.
Other Saturn facts
If you're are a lover of astronomy – then you will love finding out things you never knew about the solar system.
And we have a number of fascinating facts about one of the solar systems residents – Saturn.
Here's everything you need to know.
What are Saturn's rings made of?
It’s thought Saturn’s rings are made up of pieces of comets, asteroids, or shattered moons that broke up before they reached the planet.
They are made of billions of small chunks of ice and rock coated with other materials such as dust.
Each ring orbits at a different speed and the rings extend up to 175,000 miles out from the planet.
The rings are named alphabetically in the order that they were discovered.
Can you see Saturn from earth?
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible for much of the year.
Neptune and Uranus are not visible – and of course the eighth planet in our solar system is Earth itself.
Planets look different to stars because their brightness varies in a cycle over a period of time and they are close enough to Earth to look like a tiny disk whereas stars look like a point of light.
Saturn and Mars are commonly mistaken for stars during their dimmer periods, according to Naked Eye Planets.
Stars also generate their own light whereas planets do not. Planets shine by reflecting a portion of the sunlight they receive back into space.
The brightness of the planet depends on its distance from the sun, the size of the planet and the position of the planet and Earth.
Planets can be seen during a period called apparition. Mars, Mercury and Venus can be seen during dawn or dusk when in this period.
Jupiter and Saturn can be seen in the dawn sky – apparitions can last a few weeks (in the case of Mercury) to almost two years (in the case of Mars).
How far is Saturn from Earth?
The distance to Saturn from Earth is constantly changing – as both of the planets make their way through space.
When the two are closest, they lie approximately 746 million miles apart – or eight times the distance between the Earth and the sun.
At their most distant they are just over a billion miles apart -or 11 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.
How old is Saturn?
Saturn was formed at the same time as the rest of the Solar System – from a large spinning disk of gas and dust.
According to astronomers, all this happened around 4.6 billion years ago – so Saturn is about 4.6 billion years old.
How far is Saturn from the Sun?
Like all of the planets, Saturn travels in an ellipse rather than a circular path – and so its distance from the sun varies slightly over the course of its year.
Saturn averages 886 million miles from the sun, at its farthest Saturn hovers 934 million miles and at its closest , the distance to Saturn from the sun is 839 million miles.
This means at such a distance Saturn's temperature remains chilly all year-round.
What is Saturn made of?
Unlike Earth, Saturn is not a solid planet – instead it is a giant gas planet.
It is made up of 94% hydrogen, 6% helium and small amounts of methane and ammonia.
Hydrogen and helium are what most stars are made of.
How many spacecrafts have visited Saturn?
As of January, 2022, four spacecrafts have flown by, or around this planet.
In 1979, Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to ever fly by Saturn – and study the spectacular planet up close.
In 1980 and 1981, Voager 1 and Voager 2 also flew close enough to study Saturn – as well as many of it's moons.
Many years later, in 2004 – the Cassini spacecraft reached Saturn.
This spacecraft was able to send back observations of the planet, its moons, and ring system – until it was sent in a controlled plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15, 2017.
How often does Saturn orbit the sun?
Saturn orbits the Sun once every 29.4 Earth years – or once every 10,755.7 Earth days.
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This slow moving planet has earned itself the nickname of “Lubadsagush” from the ancient Assyrians – meaning ''oldest of the old''.
Saturn travels at an average speed of 21,637 miles per hour or 34,821 kilometers per hour in its orbit around the Sun.
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