Object Description: (Object description credit, with thanks, goes to: www.seds.org)
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and is the second largest:
orbit: 1,429,400,000 km (9.54 AU) from Sun
diameter: 120,536 km (equatorial)
mass: 5.68e26 kg
In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture. The associated Greek god, Cronus, was the son of Uranus and Gaia and the father of Zeus (Jupiter). Saturn is the root of the English word "Saturday".
Saturn has been known since prehistoric times. Galileo was the first to observe it with a telescope in 1610; he noted its odd appearance but was confused by it. Early observations of Saturn were complicated by the fact that the Earth passes through the plane of Saturn's rings every few years as Saturn moves in its orbit. A low resolution image of Saturn therefore changes drastically. It was not until 1659 that Christiaan Huygens correctly inferred the geometry of the rings. Saturn's rings remained unique in the known solar system until 1977 when very faint rings were discovered around Uranus (and shortly thereafter around Jupiter and Neptune).
Saturn is visibly flattened (oblate) when viewed through a small telescope; its equatorial and polar diameters vary by almost 10% (120,536 km vs. 108,728 km). This is the result of its rapid rotation and fluid state. The other gas planets are also oblate, but not so much so.
Saturn is the least dense of the planets; its specific gravity (0.7) is less than that of water.
Saturn's interior is hot (12,000 K at the core) and Saturn radiates more energy into space than it receives from the Sun. Most of the extra energy is generated by the Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism as in Jupiter. But this may not be sufficient to explain Saturn's luminosity; some additional mechanism may be at work, perhaps the "raining out" of helium deep in Saturn's interior.
Radius Radius approx. approx.
Name inner outer width position mass (kg)
---- ------ ------ ----- -------- --------
D-Ring 67,000 74,500 7,500 (ring)
C-Ring 74,500 92,000 17,500 (ring) 1.1e18
Maxwell Division 87,500 88,000 500 (divide)
B-Ring 92,000 117,500 25,500 (ring) 2.8e19
Cassini Division 115,800 120,600 4,800 (divide)
Huygens Gap 117,680 (n/a) 285-440 (subdiv)
A-Ring 122,200 136,800 14,600 (ring) 6.2e18
Encke Minima 126,430 129,940 3,500 29%-53%
Encke Division 133,410 133,740
Keeler Gap 136,510 136,550
F-Ring 140,210 30-500 (ring)
G-Ring 165,800 173,800 8,000 (ring) 1e7?
E-Ring 180,000 480,000 300,000 (ring)
* distance is kilometers from Saturn's center
* the "Encke Minima" is a slang term used by amateur astronomers, not an official IAU designation
This categorization is actually somewhat misleading as the density of particles varies in a complex way not indicated by a division into neat regions: there are variations within the rings; the gaps are not entirely empty; the rings are not perfectly circular.
Two prominent rings (A and B) and one faint ring (C) can be seen from the Earth. The gap between the A and B rings is known as the Cassini division. The much fainter gap in the outer part of the A ring is known as the Encke Division (but this is somewhat of a misnomer since it was very likely never seen by Encke).
Though they look continuous from the Earth, the rings are actually composed of innumerable small particles each in an independent orbit. They range in size from a centimeter or so to several meters. A few kilometer-sized objects are also likely.
Saturn's rings are extraordinarily thin: though they're 250,000 km or more in diameter they're less than one kilometer thick. Despite their impressive appearance, there's really very little material in the rings -- if the rings were compressed into a single body it would be no more than 100 km across. The ring particles seem to be composed primarily of water ice, but they may also include rocky particles with icy coatings.
Distance Radius Mass
Satellite (000 km) (km) (kg) Discoverer Date
--------- -------- ------ ------- ---------- -----
Pan 134 10 ? Showalter 1990
Atlas 138 14 ? Terrile 1980
Prometheus 139 46 2.70e17 Collins 1980
Pandora 142 46 2.20e17 Collins 1980
Epimetheus 151 57 5.60e17 Walker 1980
Janus 151 89 2.01e18 Dollfus 1966
Mimas 186 196 3.80e19 Herschel 1789
Enceladus 238 260 8.40e19 Herschel 1789
Tethys 295 530 7.55e20 Cassini 1684
Telesto 295 15 ? Reitsema 1980
Calypso 295 13 ? Pascu 1980
Dione 377 560 1.05e21 Cassini 1684
Helene 377 16 ? Laques 1980
Rhea 527 765 2.49e21 Cassini 1672
Titan 1222 2575 1.35e23 Huygens 1655
Hyperion 1481 143 1.77e19 Bond 1848
Iapetus 3561 730 1.88e21 Cassini 1671
Phoebe 12952 110 4.00e18 Pickering 1898
Equipment & Exposure:
- Televue NP-127 (F 5.2)
- Televue PowerMate 5x (F 26 effective)
- TAK NJP Mount- Philips ToUcam Pro II (webcam)
- Avi format
- 1800 frames
- Taken 4/13/05
- Avi frames aligned and registered, result saved as TIF
- Sharpening with NIK Sharpener Pro
- Noise reduction in NeatImage
- Manual gradient removal
- Separate tuning of the three color layers
- Final leves, curves