Most scientists call Saturn the most beautiful planet. It is impossible to confuse it with any other planet in the solar system. It has been known since ancient times. Compared to Jupiter, Venus and Mars, its brightness is much weaker. Therefore, due to the dim light, which has a dull-pale hue, and due to the very slow movement in the sky, in ancient times it was believed that birth under the sign of this planet was a bad omen.
In a telescope of medium strength, it is clearly visible that the planet Saturn is very flattened. Its compression is about 10%. On the "surface" of this planet, stripes parallel to the equator are clearly defined, but they are not as clear as those of Jupiter. From these stripes, William Herschel determined the rotation period of the planet. It is 10 hours 34 minutes. Orbital speed (v) 9.69 km / s. The equatorial radius of Saturn is 60,268 ± 4 km.
Saturn is considered the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest after Jupiter. Saturn has a very interesting feature - it is the only planet among the other eight, the density of which is less than the density of water (it is 700 kg per cubic meter). Its atmosphere consists of helium "7%" and hydrogen "93%".
As shown by the results of measurements of the heat flux that emanates from the planet in the infrared region of the spectrum, the temperature of the planet's surface is from -190 to -150 degrees. This suggests that a part of the deep-seated heat is present in the thermal radiation of Saturn. This was confirmed by measurements of radio emissions.
A huge atmospheric current passes along the equator, the width of which is more than nine thousand kilometers, and the speed can reach up to 500 m / s. Storms are very common in Saturn's atmosphere, but not as powerful as on Jupiter. The planet has a magnetic field, but it is very weak.
Below the atmosphere is an ocean of molecular liquid hydrogen. At a depth equal to half the planet's radius, where the pressure is much lower, hydrogen does not have the form of a molecular state, but is metallic, albeit liquid. In the center of the planet is a huge core (its mass is equal to 20 Earth masses), which consists of iron, stone and ice. The size of Saturn's magnetosphere is more than 3 times smaller than that of Jupiter, and it extends about one million kilometers towards the Sun.
Rings of saturn
Saturn has a huge number of rings. The main three of them can be seen from Earth, and the rest are clearly visible from a telescope. There are gaps between the rings that have no particles. One of the slits can be seen from Earth, and scientists call it the Cassini slit. Each ring revolves around a planet.
The width of the rings is 400 thousand kilometers, and their thickness is very small - no more than 50 meters. The rings are made up of pieces of ice of different sizes - from dust grains and up to 50 meters in diameter. They move in approximately the same direction, sometimes they collide with each other.
Since ancient times, all scientists have wondered about the origin of rings. The following hypothesis was put forward - once a satellite came very close to the planet, and it was torn apart by the tidal forces of Saturn, and thus rings appeared. However, it has been refuted. It has now been established that the rings of the planet (and not only Saturn) are the remnants of a very large near-planetary cloud, the length of which reaches several million kilometers. From the outer regions of the cloud, satellites were formed, and from the inner formations, the rings known today arose.
Why are the rings flat?They flattened out as a result of the confrontation of 2 main forces - centrifugal and gravitational. Gravitational attraction compresses the system, and rotation prevents this compression across the axis of rotation of the planet, but cannot prevent flattening along the axis. Various space disks are also formed, including planetary rings.