Monday, August 18, 2008

Why Saturn Is Called The Ringed Planet

By: Andrew Gibson

Saturn can also be said to be 'The Ringed Planet'. It is the second largest planet in our solar system and the sixth planet from the Sun. Like Jupiter, Saturn is also a huge mass of gaseous sphere. If a space craft tried to explore the planet, it would just pass straight through it.

The planet has around 30,000 kilometer thick layer of gaseous hydrogen which slowly gives way to metallic hydrogen, just like Jupiter. Even though the mass of Saturn is 95 times more than earth it is still a 'light' planet as it is less dense than water. If there was a sea large enough in the universe Saturn would just float on it! As known to man Saturn has some 30 known satellites and surely there are more left to be discovered.

Saturn's inside is burning hot and it emits more energy into the atmosphere than it gets from the Sun. This extra energy is produced by the Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism, the same as in Jupiter. Never the less this does not explain the brightness of the planet completely ; there are some other system which may be the reason for it.

There was very little known about the planet before Voyager explorations in 1980-81. It looks as through Saturn is flattened at the poles, because of its fast rotation on its axis. The day on Saturn will be just around 10 hours, 39 minutes long but it takes around 29.5 Earth years to revolve around the Sun. The atmosphere of Saturn consists of 88percent hydrogen, 10 percent helium and remaining 2 percent of other gases like methane, ammonia etc.

Astronomers have noticed that every 30 years or so a massive storm lets itself loose on the planet, which spreads fast and furious, where the wind speed can reach up to 1,800 kilometers per hour. This phenomenon is only seen on this planet in our entire solar system and it happens in a period which corresponds to the middle of summer on Saturn. The reason is not clear yet but could be due to some seasonal factors. Other than this the atmosphere of Saturn is pretty calm.

The ring system on the planet Saturn makes it one of the most stunning objects in our solar system. They are divided into many different parts which have the A and B rings which are bright and a duller C ring. There are ring system has a variety of gaps and the main rings, as investigations show, are made of a great number of slender ringlets.

It is difficult to understand the origin of the rings. But it is believed that it may have been shaped by the larger moons which were crushed by the collision of comets and meteoroids. Scientists are not particularly sure of what these rings are made up of but they do show signs of having water. It is possible that they are made up of icebergs or snowballs.

You can see the planet Saturn very effortlessly in the night sky without a telescope. It is certainly not as bright as Jupiter but can be identified as planets don't twinkle!

Andrew Gibson is MD of It emails thousands of Free Daily Horoscopes to people each day.Have your future read and receive free daily horoscopes.Your horoscope is read just for you.

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