Fast Facts on the Planet Saturn History Size Atmosphere and More

About the planet Saturn, fast facts including history, size, atmosphere and more.


A ball with a 45-rpm record about its middle would be recognized as a model of Saturn by practically everyone. But when Galileo, in 1610, 1st saw Saturn he thought its strange appearance was due to its being 3 spheres. It was not until 1656 that Christiaan Huygens recognized that Saturn's exotic shape was due to the presence of a very thin-perhaps only inches thick--disk.

The explanation for the disk--Saturn is the only planet so adorned--is that a one-piece moon cannot form so close to a planet. The tidal forces would be too large. As it is, Saturn has 10 satellites, the last being discovered in 1966, all beyond the outermost ring.

Saturn is much like Jupiter. Its diameter is 9.47 times earth's, it rotates in 10 hours 14 minutes, takes 29.46 years to go around the sun, has an atmosphere consisting mostly of methane, and has a temperature of 261deg.F. below zero.

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