Saturn is a large, bright planet, and according to NASA, it has been known to humankind since ancient times. The first person to view Saturn through a telescope, Galileo Galilei, was also the first person to ever see the planet's famous rings.Know More
Given proper conditions, Saturn can be seen with the naked eye from Earth. It appears as a bright star, and prehistoric peoples could see it in the night sky. It wasn't until Galileo, the famous early pioneer of astronomy, used his primitive telescope to look into the heavens that humankind understood that Saturn had rings.
Of course, Galileo's telescope was so basic that he actually couldn't tell what Saturn's rings were at first, and he thought they were moons. After years of looking and considering, in 1616, Galileo guessed that the two objects he was looking at were a set of "arms." He was on the right track, but not quite there with understanding the planet's ring system.
In 1659, Christiaan Huygens, another pioneer of astronomy, took advantage of better telescope technology than had been available to Galileo to continue research into the planets. He was able to see Saturn's rings, and he also discovered Titan, one of Saturn's moons.Learn more about Planets
The first four of Saturn's moons were discovered by Christiaan Huygens and Giovanni Domenico Cassini between 1655 and 1684. As of 2014, Saturn has 53 confirmed moons and nine provisional moons.Full Answer >
Saturn is a mostly cold planet, with areas that reach temperatures as low as minus 270 F. There are some regions of the planet that feature temperatures of 80 F, but these remain unfriendly, having an extremely high atmospheric pressure.Full Answer >
With an average temperature of minus 288 degrees Fahrenheit and frequent, powerful storms throughout the planet, Saturn is not hospitable to life. Unlike most planets in the Milky Way, Saturn derives its heat from its core rather than from the Sun. The planet is known as a gas giant; it is primarily composed of gases, including hydrogen and molecular helium.Full Answer >
The Sun is almost 12 times larger than Saturn. The equatorial circumference of Saturn is 227,349 miles, while the Sun has an approximate circumference of 2,713,406 miles. The Sun has an average radius of 432,450 miles, while Saturn's mean radius is 36,184 miles.Full Answer >