50 Interesting Facts about Saturn/Part 5

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  1. At its farthest point from the Sun (aphelion), Saturn is approximately 940 million miles (1.51 billion km.) away. When it is at its closest (perihelion), Saturn is about 840 million miles (1.35 billion km.) from the Sun. On average, Saturn is about 891 million miles (1.4 billion km.) from the Sun. Earth, on average, is 92,935,700 miles (150 million km.) away.
  2. Saturn has seven main rings that consist of thousands of smaller rings. The ring farthest from the planet, the E ring, is about 180,000 miles (300,000 km.) across. In contrast, the F ring is about 20-300 miles (30-500 km.) wide.
  3. Saturn’s rings seem to disappear about every 14 years. Scientists believe that the rings seem to disappear when Saturn is tilted directly in line with Earth.
  4. Saturn’s moon Titan is a very noisy place. The sound of the wind on Titan is intensified because Titan’s thick air conducts sound waves so well.
  5. Saturn’s nearest moon takes just 12 hours to circle the planet. Its farthest moon takes more than three Earth years.
  6. Planets move more slowly the farther they are away from the Sun, so Saturn’s average velocity of 6 miles (9.64 km.) per second seems much slower than Earth’s 18.5 miles (30 km.) per second.
    Saturn is the only planet that is less dense than water.
  7. Saturn is the least dense planet in the solar system, and if there were a body of water large enough to hold Saturn, the planet would float. In contrast, Earth and Mercury would sink the fastest.
  8. Today, the word “saturnine” means gloomy, sullen, or sluggish—most likely as an allusion to Saturn, one of the slowest moving planets.
  9. Saturn is called a “naked eye” planet because it can be seen without a telescope or binoculars. Saturn is often the third brightest planet in the night sky and has a yellowish color that does not twinkle. Unlike stars, planets like Saturn do not twinkle because they are much closer to Earth than stars.
  10. Future missions to Saturn include the Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM), which will explore Saturn and its moons Titan and Enceladus. With a cost of $2.5 billion and estimated launch in 2020, the mission includes circumnavigating Titan with a hot air balloon.