Saturn is a large, bright planet, and according to NASA, it has been known to humankind since ancient times. The first person to view Saturn through a telescope, Galileo Galilei, was also the first person to ever see the planet's famous rings.Continue Reading
Given proper conditions, Saturn can be seen with the naked eye from Earth. It appears as a bright star, and prehistoric peoples could see it in the night sky. It wasn't until Galileo, the famous early pioneer of astronomy, used his primitive telescope to look into the heavens that humankind understood that Saturn had rings.
Of course, Galileo's telescope was so basic that he actually couldn't tell what Saturn's rings were at first, and he thought they were moons. After years of looking and considering, in 1616, Galileo guessed that the two objects he was looking at were a set of "arms." He was on the right track, but not quite there with understanding the planet's ring system.
In 1659, Christiaan Huygens, another pioneer of astronomy, took advantage of better telescope technology than had been available to Galileo to continue research into the planets. He was able to see Saturn's rings, and he also discovered Titan, one of Saturn's moons.Learn more about Planets
With an average temperature of minus 288 degrees Fahrenheit and frequent, powerful storms throughout the planet, Saturn is not hospitable to life. Unlike most planets in the Milky Way, Saturn derives its heat from its core rather than from the Sun. The planet is known as a gas giant; it is primarily composed of gases, including hydrogen and molecular helium.Full Answer >
Saturn formed according to one of two models: the core accretion model, which states that planets formed over time through gravitational forces drawing materials together, or the disk instability model, which states that clumps of dust and gas fused together quickly and progressively formed a planet.Full Answer >
Although Saturn has seven ring groups, scientists do not know exactly how many rings are around the planet. This is because the ring groups are made up of thousands of smaller rings, according to the Cool Cosmos website published by the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center.Full Answer >
A day on Saturn is 10.7 Earth hours long, which is the amount of time it takes for the planet to make a complete rotation on it axis. Saturn makes a full orbit around the sun in a period of time equal to 29 Earth years. Saturn is about 886 million miles from the sun and is the sixth furthest planet in the solar system.Full Answer >