Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in our solar system. It is classified as a gas giant and is surrounded by rings. But when was Saturn discovered? This article will answer that very question and will also give you three interesting facts about Saturn.
When Was Saturn Discovered?
The short answer to this question is that nobody knows! Saturn was known in prehistoric times, before the ancient Romans and the ancient Greeks. The Roman god Saturnus was the Roman god of agriculture and harvest. The planet was named after this Roman god. So now you know that Saturn was discovered in prehistoric times. But when were its rings discovered?
When Were Saturn’s Rings Discovered?
In 1610, Galileo Galilei looked through his telescope and saw Saturn’s planetary rings, but his telescope was not good enough to properly identify them. In fact, he thought that he was seeing three different planets. In 1612 Saturn’s rings were on the same plane as the Earth so could not be seen, and Galileo was very confused! When they reappeared in 1613 he was even more confused! Using a far more superior telescope, Christiaan Huygens, in 1655, first discovered that Saturn was surrounded by rings. He actually though there was only one ring! Twenty years later Giovanni Domenico Cassini discovered that Saturn actually had multiple rings. In 1859, James Clerk Maxwell hypothesised that the ‘rings’ were all just individual small particles. In other words, he hypothesised that the rings were ‘broken’. Only in 1895 was his theory proven correct. We now know that Saturn is surrounded by mostly ice particles, with some rocks and other debris. Now you know when Saturn’s rings were discovered, let’s look at those three cool facts about Saturn.
Three Interesting Facts about Saturn
Fact 1: Saturn is composed mainly of hydrogen gas (93%), with smaller proportions of helium, ammonia, methane some other gases.
Fact 2: Wind speeds on Saturn can reach an impressive 1900km/h (over 1150mph).
Fact 3: 60 moons have been identified around Saturn, but a few may be large dust clamps which are actually part of the rings.