Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun in our Solar System and is the second largest, after Jupiter. Just like Jupiter, Saturn is a gas giant planet, consisting mostly of hydrogen and helium.
The planet’s most famous feature is undoubtedly its rings. Saturn’s rings have captivated astronomers since they were first spotted by Galileo in 1610 and are a favourite target of astrophotographers, who love capturing pictures of them.
The rings consist of billions of fragments of ice that vary in size from a grain of sand to boulders several metres across. They amount to a disc spanning 250,000km from side to side, yet only 1km thick.
Saturn by Fernando Oliveira De Menezes, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Equipment: C11 edge HD, So 290mc, Powermate 2x
Facts about Saturn
- Diameter: 116,464km (9.14 times Earth), 250,000km including rings
- Mass: 568 trillion trillion kg (95 times Earth)
- Distance from the Sun: 1433.5 million km (9.58 AU)
- Length of day: 10.7 hours
- Length of year: 29.4 years
- Number of moons: 82
- Average temperature: -140ºC
- Type of planet: Gas giant
Why is it called Saturn?
The Roman god Saturn was the god of agriculture and wealth, but his role was later combined with the Cronus, the Greek god of time.
It was from this last role that Saturn most likely got its name, as it is the slowest moving of the naked-eye planets in their journey across the night sky.
As Saturn was one of the Titans, most of the larger moons were named after his fellow mythological giants.
As better observing techniques discovered more moons, they were named after giants from other mythologies, including Inuit, Gallic and Norse.
Pictures of Saturn
Below are some of the best pictures of Saturn captured by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers from around the world.
If you’d like to have a go at photographing Saturn yourself, read our astrophotography guide or our tutorial on how to photograph planets.
Or find out how to observe Saturn’s moons and the best telescopes for observing the planets.
And don’t forget to send us your images. You can also share them with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Saturn Lauren Hodgson-King, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, 13/14 September 2020. Equipment: Celestron NexImage 10, Celestron NexStar 6SE Schmidt-Cassegrain
Saturn, by Eric Sussenbach, Willemstad, Curaçao, 25 April 2021. Equipment: ZWO ASI 462MC colour camera, Celestron 11” EdgeHD SCT, Celestron AVX mount
Saturn and its moons, by Sreesha Belakvaadi, Bangalore, India, 1 May 2021. Equipment: ZWO ASI290MC colour camera, Celestron 9.25” SCT, iOptron CEM40 mount
Saturn by Andrew Steele, South-East, UK. Equipment: Olympus s800, 30x zoom, 5x digital zoom.
First ever view (and shot) of Saturn by Jason Meadows, Kent, UK. Equipment: Bresser Messier N-150, 25mm eyepiece, barlow x2, Panasonic Lumix TZ5
Saturn by Ben Murray, Preston. Equipment: NexStar 127SLT, 2x Barlow, SPC 900.
Saturn viewed @ 11.00pm April 24th 2011 by David Burr, Wimborne, UK. Equipment: Celestron 8″ reflector with computerised mount.
My best Saturn image by Ben Murray, Preston, UK. Equipment: Celestron nexstar 127 slt, spc 900 webcam, 2x barlow lense.
Saturn and it’s Serpent Storm by Tom Howard, Crawley, West Sussex, UK. Equipment: Meade 127mm refractor, EQ6, Celestron NexImage.
Short Saturn stack by Jarrod Bennett, Nossegem, Belgium. Equipment: Skywatcher 150PL, Phillips SPC880 flashed to 900, Registax 5.1.
Saturn viewed 22 May 2011 by David Burr, Wimborne, UK. Equipment: Philips Toucam video processed with Registax 6
Saturn by Peter Reader, Devon, UK. Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P, Sky-Watcher EQ-5 Mount, Philips Toucam Pro II.
LRGB Saturn 23.05.2011 by Piotr Maliäski, Warszawa, Poland. Equipment: C11, HEQ5 SynScan, Meade 2x TeleXtender, ASH atmospheric diffraction corrector, Orion LRGB filters, Basler Ace acA640-100gm
Saturn by Martin, Northumberland, UK. Equipment: Celestron C8, Celestron NexImage CC
Saturn by Gary Palmer, Warrington, UK. Equipment: Celestron CPC800, Canon 60d.
Saturn by Alan Mcgough, Manchester, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher skymax 127 5″ maksutov scope, Philips spc900nc webcam
Saturn at time of Cassini Probe landing Dec 2004 by Brian.M.Johnson, Hove, UK. Equipment: Mead LX200, low quality analog video
Saturn at time of Cassini Probe landing Dec 2004 by Brian.M.Johnson, Hove, UK. Equipment: Mead LX200, old analog video
Saturn by Michael Lloyd, Cheshire, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 10″ Dobsonian Reflector, LG GSM360 5MP Mobile Phone Camera, Super Plossel 5mm, x2 Barlow, No 12 Yellow Celestron Filter.
Saturn by Chris Casey, Wickford, Essex, UK. Equipment: NexStar 5″Se, Phillips SPC900
Saturn 15 March 2012 by Andy Laing, Northamptonshire, UK. Equipment: SW 127mak, 2x barlow, DMK21AF02.AS mono.
Saturn from SE London, March 24 by Jim Thurston, London, UK. Equipment: Celestron 9.25″ SCT on EQ6, DMK21AU618, Astronomik LRGB filters.
Saturn by Neil Phillips, Essex, UK. Equipment: 245mm Orion UK Newtonian Europa.f6.3 DMK 21AU618.AS Camera, Astronomik type 2 RGB filters. Celestron Ultima 2x Barlow with extension tube, filter wheel.
Saturn in RGB by Freddie, Eythorne, Kent, UK Equipment: CPC925, DMK21
Saturn by Ronan Monaghan, Belleek, Northern Ireland. Equipment: Microsoft Lifecam Webcam, Skywatcher 150p
Saturn 29-03-2013 by Stuart Powell, Leeds, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 200p, motorised eq5 mount, Celeron 2x Ultima Barlow, 3x Spacer, DBK21au618 camera.
Saturn by Simon Rowland, Ponteland, Northumberland, UK. Equipment: 200p, 5x Powermate, SPC900, IR filter, 200s AVI, PIPP, Registax 6, Gimp 2
Saturn 30th April 2013 , just after Opposition by Steve Ward, Red Lodge, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: Philips SPC900NC Webcam , Skywatcher Mak180Pro , HEQ5ProSynScan , 1.8 x Barlow.
Saturn by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: Celestron CPC GPS 800 telecsope, Celestron Neximage 5, 2x barlow lens
Saturn from 9th June by Simon Rowland, Ponteland, Northumberland, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 200p, SPC900, Televue Powermate x5
Saturn with XBox webcam by Bob Ford, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 200P, HEQ5 Pro Mount, modified Xbox webcam
Saturn by Jarrod Bennett, Mutxamel, Spain. Equipment: Skywatcher 150PL, EQ3-2, Phillips SPC900 webcam, IR/UV cut Baader filter, Tal x3 Barlow.
Saturn 13th May 2014 by Neill, Wimborne, Dorset, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 300P SynScan GoTo, Canon 7D, Tele Vue 4x Powermate.
Saturn by Alastair Woodward, Derby, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 6″ newtonian, EQ3-2 mount, RA and DEC motors, Modded Logitech Quickcam Pro 3000.
My First Astro Image – Saturn by Thomas Pickles (8 years old), Somerset, UK. Equipment: Sky-Watcher Explorer 190MN Pro, Tele Vue 2 x 2″ Powermate, QHY IMG132E, NEQ6 Pro Mount.
Saturn, 12th June by Neill Mitchell, Wimborne, Dorset, UK. Equipment: QHY5-II C, Televue 4x Powermate, SkyWatcher 300P
Saturn by Tom Howard, Crawley, Sussex, UK. Equipment: Celestron Skyris 618C camera, Celestron C11 telescope.
Five Years by Tom Howard, Crawley, Sussex, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 SCT, Celestron Skyris 618C camera, EQ6 mount.
The Rings of Saturn by Mark Whitcutt, Newport, South Wales, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 150mm refractor with Orion Solar System IV imaging camera.
Saturn taken on 06. 06. 2015. by Mark Whitcutt, Newport, UK. Equipment: 120mm refractor with RA drIve using Orion Solar Imager IV planetary camera
Saturn by Ronald Piacenti Junior, Brasilia, DF, Brazil. Equipment: Celestron C6, HEQ5 Pro, ZWO ASI120MC
Lord of the Rings by John Chumack, Dayton, Ohio, USA. Equipment: 8 inch diameter C8 scope, 2x Barlow, and QHY5IIL CCD camera, 2400 frames stacked in Registax6
Saturn by Kamran Janamian, Esfahan, Iran. Equipment: Skywatcher 200p, TeleVue 5X powermate, Canon 600D Modified, Astronomik UV/IR cut.
Saturn with Skywatcher 150/750 by Houssem Ksontini, Tunis, Tunisia. Equipment: Skywatcher 150/750, Neq3-2 mount, Barlow x3, Logitech C270
Saturn Planet at May/2016 by Ronald Piacenti Junior, Norma Observatory, Brasilia-DF, Brazil. Equipment: Celestron C6, HEQ5PRO, ASI120MC, Barlow 2X, Moon & SkyGlow Filter
Saturn by Paul Williamson, Abu Dhabi. Equipment: Celestron C11, ASI 224.
Saturn close-up by John Chumack, Dayton, Ohio, USA. Equipment: C8, QHY5IILCCD, 5X Televue Barlow.
Saturn by Samuele Draghi, Italy. Equipment: Celestron C8, ZWO ASI 120 MC-S
Lord of The Rings by Simon Rowland, Playa San Juan, Tenerife. Equipment: Skywatcher 200p on HEQ5, 2.5x Powermate, 2x X-cel barlow, ASI224MC.
Saturn 2017 by Avani Soares, Parsec Observatory, Canoas, Brazil. Equipment: C14 Edge, ASI 224, L and IR Pass filter.
Titan, that would be an acceptable catch! by Avani Soares, Parsec Observatory, Canoas, Brazil. Equipment: C14 Edge, ASI 224, PM 2X, L Filter
Saturn and Titan by Avani Soares, Parsec Observatory, Canoas, Brazil. Equipment: C14 Edge, ASI 224, PM 2X, L filter.
Saturn in June by Avani Soares, Parsec Observatory, Canoas, Brazil. Equipment: C14 Edge, ASI 224,+ PM 2X, L Filter.
Saturn Planet by Ronald Piacenti Junior, Brasilia-DF, Brazil. Equipment: Celestron C6 SCT, HEQ5 Pro Mount, Expanse ASI120 MC camera.
Saturn in June by Avani Soares, Canoas, Brazil. Equipment: C14 Edge, ASI 224, PM 2X, L filter
Saturn Planet by Ronald Piacenti Jr., Norma Observatory, Brasilia, DF, Brazil. Equipment: Celestron C6, HEQ5 Mount, ASI120 MC camera
Saturn with Skywatcher 150/750 by Houssem Ksontini, Tunis, Tunisia. Equipment: Skywatcher 150/750, NEQ3-2 mount (RA motorised), ASI 224MC, Barlow x3
Saturn on 23/07/2017 by Dmitry Ardashev, Zaprudnya, Russia. Equipment: Sky-Watcher BK P2001 Newtonian reflector, HEQ5 Pro equatorial mount, ZWO ASI 178MC CCD Camera, ZWO Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector
An amazing Saturn with ASI 290! by Avani Soares, Parsec Observatory, Canoas, Brazil. Equipment: C14 Edge, ASI 290, Powermate 2X, L filter.
A Magnificent Saturn by Avani Soares, Canoas, Brazil. Equipment: C14 Edge, ASI 290, PM 2X, L filter
Methane in Saturn – Firing it with style by Fernando Oliveira De Menezes, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Equipment: Celestron CPC C11 Edge, Asi 290 MC, Powermate 2,5x, Filter Methane.
Comparing stacking programs by Owen Gwynne, Runcorn, UK. Equipment: 127mm Skywatcher SkyMax, modified £2 webcam from Asda