Saturn – the greatest planet (except for Uranus which is easier to work into jokes)
Saturn is Reeko’s favorite planet (although Uranus, which makes great joke material, comes in a close 2nd). Like Jupiter, Saturn is a large, gaseous planet composed mostly of the gases hydrogen and helium. Saturn has a magnetic field 1,000 times stronger than Earth’s but not as strong as Jupiter’s. Due to its gaseous nature, Saturn’s density is so low that it could float in an ocean of water. It probably has a core similar to that of Jupiter. It is covered with cloud bands, some forming cyclonic patterns like Jupiter’s, but the colors appear more subdued than do Jupiter’s because of an atmospheric haze that covers the clouds.
Saturn is surrounded by a spectacular ring system (see the picture above). Galileo observed these rings in 1610, but he did not identify them as rings. Instead, he believed Saturn was actually 3 separate planets. In 1655, using a more powerful telescope, the Dutch astronomer Christian Huygens was able to see a flat, apparently solid ring around Saturn. Later, with even more powerful telescopes, astronomers were able to identify separate rings.
The cameras of Voyagers 1 and 2 (spaceships sent by NASA) revealed that there are really tens of thousands of rings extending from about 4,300 miles (7,000 kilometers) to 46,000 miles (74,000 kilometers) beyond Saturn’s atmosphere. They are made of ice and ice-covered particles that range from the size of a speck of dust to the size of a house.
The graphic below shows Saturn’s orbit around the sun (the Red line) compared to the orbit of Earth (the inner dot that’s moving pretty quickly). Saturn takes about 29 1/2 Earth years to finish one revolution around the Sun.