As always: science rules, religion drools. Hey, religions of the world: Why weren’t these mentioned in your holey (full of holes) books?
With its newfound companions, Saturn nudges out Jupiter as the planet with the most known moons in our cosmic neighborhood.
Jupiter may be the solar system’s king, but Saturn has a bigger entourage: Today, astronomers announced that they have discovered 20 more moons around Saturn, bringing its total number to 82—the most for any planet in the solar system. The massive haul comes just over a year after astronomers announced 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter, but with the latest finds, Saturn’s retinue now surpasses Jupiter’s 79 known natural satellites. (Explore our interactive atlas of moons.)
Taken together, these sets of relatively small moons could help astronomers better understand the many collisions that took place in the early solar system, and they could provide ripe new flyby targets for future missions to the gas giants.
Seventeen of the new moons orbit in the opposite direction of Saturn’s rotation. Each of these “retrograde” moons takes more than three years to trace out one orbit. The other three moons orbit Saturn in the same direction as the planet’s rotation. Two of these “prograde” moons take roughly two years to finish one orbit, while the third takes more than three years to go around Saturn.
Many of these moons may be too small to see (not much larger than Mars’s Phobos and Deimos), but they’re still moons.
The Carnegie Institution for Science is holding a contest to name the new moons, within specific rules based on the moons’s orbits and groupings. Click to read more….
Help Name 20 Newly Discovered Moons of Saturn!
Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard has just announced the discovery of 20 new moons orbiting Saturn, bringing its total to 82 and moving it ahead of Jupiter, which has 79. All hail the new king of moons!
Earlier this year we held a contest to name five Jovian moons discovered by Sheppard last July. We loved the enthusiasm everyone showed for this contest so much that we’re doing it again. Please help us name all 20 Saturnian moons!
Contest Launch Date:
October 7, 2019
Contest End Date:
December 6, 2019
How to Submit:
Tweet your suggested moon name to @SaturnLunacy and tell us why you picked it. Photos, artwork, and videos are strongly encouraged. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #NameSaturnsMoons.
The General Rules:
We hope you know a lot about giants, because that’s the key to playing the name game for Saturnian moons.
- Two of the newly discovered prograde moons fit into a group of outer moons with inclinations of about 46 degrees called the Inuit group. All name submissions for this group must be giants from Inuit mythology.
- Seventeen of the newly discovered moons are retrograde moons in the Norse group. All name submissions for this group must be giants from Norse mythology.
- One of the newly discovered moons orbits in the prograde direction and has an inclination near 36 degrees, which is similar to those in the Gallic group, although it is much farther away from Saturn than any other prograde moons. It must be named after a giant from Gallic mythology.