Saturn

Introduction

• Saturn was familiar to ancient astronomers and is easily seen without telescopes or binoculars.

• Even though it is easy to see and it is the second biggest planet in our solar system, it doesn't have many features to use as landmarks.

• Once in a great while, though, there is a storm. There was one not too long ago, and NASA got some great shots from the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA put the pictures together and produced a movie. (If they give Oscars for Hollywood movies, I wonder what award they would give for space movies?)

Internet Information

This is the only planet for which you can use another method to calculate the rotation rate using the frames the movie has. (Because the storm shown in the movie goes all the way around the planet.)

From the caption, you can determine how many minutes each frame lasts. It also tells you how many degrees there are per frame.

Warning: The movie takes a long time to download and causes higher blood pressure if you're in a hurry. The movie requires a pretty powerful computer with a high-resolution screen to really see it. If you have the time and patience, you won't be sorry. The series of "real-color" Saturn images are incredible.

"Saturn Rotates" movie (180K bytes)

Strategy

1. If you don't have the time for the great movie, the caption will give you the information you need. It's best to use the time it takes to go through an angle. They mention how long each frame lasts and to what angle it corresponds. But be careful , there's more than 24 frames in the movie!

2. It is much wiser to rely on the movie information, if you can.

3. Count the number of frames that was used in the movie.

4. Measure (with your timer) the time it takes for Saturn to turn during one frame.

5. Calculate the angle that Saturn covers in one frame.

6. Using the information from the photo caption and the data you got from the movie, calculate the real period of rotation of Saturn, and its angular velocity.

7. If you want additional information about Saturn or any other object in a Solar system, we suggest you go to Nine Planets Homepage. or Jet Propulsion Labs Homepage