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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2004

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Saturn, David Buick


Saturn is one of the four jovian planets in our solar system. It is the second largest planet with a diameter of 120,540 km. It is 9.5 AU away from the sun, and has an orbital period of 29.5 years. Its mass is 95 times that of Earth, but its density is only 0.7 g/cm^3, which is the lowest of any planet. Saturn has 10.7 hour long days. The visible parts of Saturn are its uppermost clouds, which are made of ammonia crystals. Although not visible, the interior of Saturn is composed of hydrogen and helium. The hydrogen becomes more and more pressurized the further into Saturn and most of it is liquid, and then metallic in the inner most core. This is something hydrogen never does on Earth. The most beautiful feature of Saturn is its rings. There are three layers of rings. The center layer is brightest while the outer and inner layers are translucent. The rings are composed mostly of water ice.

The image of Saturn composed on November 4, 2004 is a composition of pictures taken from the Calvin College remote telescope in New Mexico . The image of Saturn shows the rings of Saturn nicely. It is easy to pick out the outer layer ring as well as the bright middle ring. The inner ring is a little harder to pick out, but is still visible. There are a couple lines that can be picked out on the body of Saturn that resembles the moving gases of hydrogen and helium. It is even discernable to see there is a wind moving the gases across the surface of Saturn.