As you probably already know, Saturn is known as being the “Moon King” of the solar system. Astronomers were able to find 20 more moons circling the ringed planet. The total number of moons so far is 82. It has three more than Jupiter.
These new small moons have from 2 to 4 miles (that’s 3 to 6 km) in diameter. They were found with the help of the Subaru telescope in Hawaii, by a team of researchers led by Scott Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington.
On Wednesday, Sheppard stated that Saturn was, indeed, the moon king. We found out about this discovery from the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.
One of these moons circles at the distance of 15 million miles (that’s 24 million kilometers) from Saturn, which is the farthest away than any of the moons. If we are to make a comparison, Earth’s Moon circles at about 240,000 miles (that’s 386,000 km) from the planet.
17 of these newly found moons are circling in the opposite direction of the rotation of the planet. The other three orbits in the same direction ar Saturn spins, as it usually happens with all the moons.
Some moons are actually fragments from larger moons that were destroyed a long time ago in collisions with other moon or asteroids. 79 of Jupiter’s moons are in this situation.
Saturn, which is the gas giant that’s made out of helium and hydrogen is the second-largest planet out there, and the sixth in line from the Sun. It has a diameter of 72,000 miles (that’s 116,000 km). There is only one bigger planet – Jupiter, which is the fifth planet from the Sun. Saturn was formed together with the other planets, and the Sun formed around 4.5 billion years ago.