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 an average of 886 million miles from the sun, which puts it about 9.5 times farther away from the sun than the Earth. The exact distance from Saturn to the sun varies based on Saturn's location along its elliptical orbit.Full Answer >
Although it has no formal name, the symbol for Saturn is meant to represent a scythe or sickle and is similar in appearance to a cursive "h" with a horizontal line across the top. The International Astronomical Union prefers for scientists to use the abbreviation "S" in formal contexts.Full Answer >
Though there are competing theories about the formation of the planets, including Saturn, the most widely accepted theory in 2014 is that of core accretion. Gravity pulled elements in space together in clumps. The clump cores then rotated, binding gases and other elements.Full Answer >