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Wildrik Botjes Planetarium
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Astr110 Photography Projects, Spring 2005

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Saturn, Eric Van Marion


Saturn was hailed by the Romans as the god of agriculture. Galileo was the first person to observe this planet with a telescope and he had difficulty comprehending what he saw because he could not at first understand its peculiar shape. It wasn't until 1659 when Christiann Huygens figured out the geometry of the rings. Saturn's rings remained a marvel in space until smaller rings were noticed around the planet Uranus and Jupiter.

Saturn is the least dense of all the planets, its gravity is less than water. Saturn has a similar composition to Jupiter. It has no hard surface, consisting of gases, especially hydrogen and helium. Its core may contain rocky materials burried under thousands of miles of metallic hydrogen bacause of the great pressure. Saturn is very hot, 12000K, at the center. It gives off more energy than it receives from the sun. There are two primary rings which are visible from earth and one smaller one. Saturn's rings stretch almost 250,000 km in diameter but they are very thin, about 1 km. Saturn's rings are not stable and they undergo a regenerating process. The rings which we see may only be a few hundred years old. Saturn is about 75% hydrogen and 25% helium, though there are hydrogen componds such as methane, ammonia and water. However, its rings contain particles of water ice and dust and larger pebbles and boulders from rocky materials.



Right Ascension (J2000) 07h35m17s
Declination (J2000) +21:49:01
Filters used blue(B), green(V), H alpha
Exposure time per filter

.1s, 2s, 2s

Date observed