Symbol for Saturn

by Jerry Coffey on June 30, 2008


The symbol for Saturn is often referred to as an ancient scythe or sickle. Since Saturn was the Roman god of seed-sowing, it makes sense that the planetary symbol would be a tool used for cutting down grains. Below are a few fun and interesting facts about Saturn.

Saturn is sometimes called the ”Jewel of the Solar System” because its ring system looks like a crown. Those rings are made up of dust, rock, and ice accumulated from passing comets and meteorite impacts on Saturn’s moons. Some of the rocks in the ring system are as small as grains of sand, others are larger than tall buildings, while a few are up to a kilometer across.

Saturn is the second largest planet in the Solar System behind Jupiter. Like Jupiter, it is a gas giant. The main Saturnian gas is helium. In fact, because of its gaseous nature and resulting low density, Saturn could float on water, if you could find a pool big enough to sit it in. Saturn has a density of 0.687 g/cm3. In comparison, water has a density of 1 g/cm3 and the Earth has a density of 5.52g/cm3.

Saturn’s distance from the Sun makes its orbit seem slow to us here on Earth. One year on Saturn is equal to 29 years here on Earth. Despite its slow orbital period, Saturn spins quickly. It rotates on its axis every 10 hours and 14 minutes. Only Jupiter rotates more quickly. The fast rotation, along with other factors, creates a windy atmosphere on the planet. Very windy, actually. Wind speeds on Saturn can exceed 1,800 kph.

The quick rotation of Saturn flattens the planet into an oblate spheroid. Objects at the poles are 54,000 km from the planet’s center, while it is 60,300 km from the center to points on the equator. So, locations on the equator are approximately 6,300 km farther from the center than those on the poles.

There are at least 160 moons in the Solar System. Saturn has 60 confirmed moons. Jupiter has another 63, so the majority of the moons in our Solar System are in orbit around these two gas giants.

The astronomical symbol for Saturn is only a tiny bit of information about this wondrous planet. Oh yes, since we are discussing symbols, please do not confuse the astronomical symbol for the astrological symbol. We would hate to have you confuse good science for that junk.

Here’s an article about how Saturn’s Rings are disappearing (don’t worry, they’ll be back), and a cool view of Saturn in 3D.

Here’s an article from NASA about all the symbols in the Solar System. And this article from Wikipedia has even more symbols in the Solar System.

We have recorded two episodes just about Saturn. The first is Episode 59: Saturn, and the second is Episode 61: Saturn’s Moons.

Sources:
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/multimedia/display.cfm?IM_ID=167
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Saturn

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: