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Saturn, the Jewel of Solar System, is the sixth planet from the Sun and also the second largest after Jupiter. Saturn has been rightly called one of the most beautiful planets in the solar system due to its shining ring system. Saturn is named after Saturn, the God of Agriculture in Roman mythology.

Saturn Rings


Saturn Cassini March        SaturnPolar Vortex

Astronomical Symbol
Its astronomical symbol is a stylized representation of the god's sickle.

The Beautiful Saturn Ring System

In 1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was the first to gawk at Saturn through his home-made telescope. He observed a pair of objects on either side of the planet and thought that Saturn was triple bodied.

However, in 1659, Dutch astronomer C Huygens, using a more powerful telescope than that of Galilei proposed that Saturn was surrounded by a thin, flat ring.

It was in 1675 that Italian-born astronomer Jean-Dominique Cassini discovered a stretch of 4800 km between the rings. This stretch is now known as the Cassini Division.

Voyager Ring




Ring Name: D
Distance*: 68,000 km
Width: 8,500 km

Ring Name: C
Distance*: 74,500 km
Width: 17,500 km
Saturn Oppositions

Ring Name: B
Distance*: 92,000 km
Width: 25,500 km
Thickness: 0.1 km - 1 km

Ring Name: Cassini Division
Distance*: 117,500 km
Width: 4,700 km

Ring Name: A
Distance*: 122,200 km
Width: 14,600 km

Thickness: 0.1 km - 1 km

Ring Name: F
Distance*: 140,210 km
Width: 30 km - 500 km

Ring Name: G
Distance*: 165,800 km
Width: 8,000 km
Thickness: 100 km - 1,000 km

Ring Name: E
Distance*: 180,000 km
Width: 300,000 km
Thickness: 1,000 km - 30,000 km

* The distance is measured from the center of the planet to the start of the ring.

Physical characteristics of Rings

Saturn’s rings are composed of silica rock, iron oxide, and ice particles. The ring system of Saturn comprises of thousands of thin gaps along with the larger ones.

It is also not known clearly if the rings of Saturn have their own atmosphere.

The rings are made up of billions of chunks of rock and ice varying in size from a sugar grain to a house.

Missions to Saturn

Successful missions to Saturn include NASA’s Pioneer 11, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Another mission named Cassini was launched jointly by NASA and ESA on July 1, 2004. Cassini will be in orbit around Saturn for nearly 4 years.


Saturn is the least dense of all planets in the Solar System. It is visibly flattened towards its poles due to very high rotation speed of the planet about its axis. Its mass is equal to the combined mass of about 96 Earths.

Saturn is made mostly of Hydrogen & Helium with traces of water, methane, ammonia and rock, similar to the composition of the early Solar Nebula from which the solar system was formed. It doesn’t have a solid surface to stand on.

Saturn has a core made up of rocks at the center, a layer of metallic hydrogen covering the rocky layer and another layer of molecular hydrogen above the metallic hydrogen layer.

Saturn has a very hot interior, reaching 12000 K at the core, and it radiates more energy into space than it receives from the Sun.

Saturn’s Moon

Saturn is currently known to have 56 moons many of which were discovered very recently by the Cassini spacecraft. A precise count of the number of moons cannot be certain as some of the orbiting chunks of ice in Saturn's rings can be technically called moons due to their large size and their count cannot be estimated.

A complete list of Saturn’s recognized moons is as follows:

  1. Albiorix
  2. Atlas
  3. Calypso
  4. Daphnis
  5. Dione
  6. Enceladus
  7. Epimetheus
  8. Erriapo
  9. Helene
  10. Hyperion
  11. Iapetus
  12. Ijiraq
  13. Janus
  14. Kiviuq
  1. Mimas
  2. Methone
  3. Mundilfari
  4. Paaliaq
  5. Narvi
  6. Pan
  7. Pallene
  8. Pandora
  9. Phoebe
  10. Polydeuces
  11. Prometheus
  12. Rhea
  13. Siarnaq
  14. Skathi
  1. Suttungr
  2. Tarvos
  3. Telesto
  4. Tethys
  5. Thrymr
  6. Titan
  7. Ymir
  8. S/2004 S7
  9. S/2004 S8
  10. S/2004 S9
  11. S/2004 S10
  12. S/2004 S11
  13. S/2004 S12
  14. S/2004 S13
  1. S/2004 S14
  2. S/2004 S15
  3. S/2004 S16
  4. S/2004 S17
  5. S/2004 S18
  6. S/2004 S19
  7. S/2006 S1
  8. S/2006 S2
  9. S/2006 S3
  10. S/2006 S4
  11. S/2006 S5
  12. S/2006 S6
  13. S/2006 S7
  14. S/2006 S8

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