Saturn does not display the detailed bands of clouds that Jupiter does. In this image, you can see a three or four bands of clouds on the planet. But Saturn more than makes up for the lack of cloud details with its awesome rings.
Saturn was named for the Roman god of agriculture. Voyager 1 in 1980 flew within 40,000 miles, and Voyager 2 in 1981 within 26,000 miles of Saturn's cloud tops. The two Voyager spacecraft sent back 33,000 images of the Saturnian system. The Voyager images confirmed that Saturn's rings consist of dust to boulder size icy particles and ice-frosted rocks orbiting Saturn.
Like Jupiter, Saturn is a huge, multilayered gas ball that rotates relatively rapidly. Saturn's atmosphere has the same constituents as Jupiter, but in different mixtures. For example, Saturn contains less than half the amount of helium. High speed winds up to 1000 miles per hour occur in Saturn's atmosphere. Saturn radiates more energy than it absorbs from the Sun. A "day" on Saturn lasts only about 10 and 1/2 hours (10.656 hours to be exact). Saturn orbits the Sun at a distance 9 and 1/2 times that of Earth, and takes almost 29 and 1/2 years to complete a revolution around the Sun. Saturn is 74,900 miles in diameter at the equator (as compared to Earth, which has an equatorial diameter of 7,930 miles). Although Saturn's mass is more than 95 times that of Earth, the planet's density is so low that it would float in water (assuming you could find a lake large enough)!
This CCD image was taken using a Mewlon 210 Dall-Kirkham telescope at prime focus operating at f11.5. This image is a composite of a 1 second exposure through a blue filter, and 1/2 second exposures through red and green filters. The image was processed in MaxIm DL (unsharp mask only). The images were taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona.
RA: 02h 41m 33s Dec: +12d 59' 03"
November 28, 1999
Images by Sid Leach
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