How Many Moons Does Saturn Have?

Saturn and its moons
Of the sixty-two known moons of Saturn, thirty-five orbit at a distance of about 7 million miles from the epicenter of the planet. This article takes a brief look at Saturn's moon system.
Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and the second-largest planet in the solar system. Saturn is one of the Jovian planets of the solar system. The surface of Saturn consists of rock and ice. A thick layer of metallic hydrogen surrounds it and winds blow at over 1,100 mph. One of the prominent features of Saturn are its rings, which consist of ice particles and rocky debris. Of the 62 known moons of Saturn, Titan is the second-largest moon in the solar system, bigger than the planet Mercury and possesses a nitrogen-rich atmosphere and a territorial make-up that includes dry lakes and river networks. The British astronomer John Herschel suggested naming the then 7 known satellites, from among the pantheon of Gods linked to Saturn. 24 of Saturn's moons are termed as regular satellites and are named after the race of Titans from Greek mythology. The remaining 38 are irregular satellites are named after figures from Norse, Inuit and Gallic mythology, and orbit farther away from Saturn.

Astronomers are of the opinion that these bodies are actually minor planets which have been captured in the gravitational field of Saturn, eventually colliding and breaking up to form moons. Only 53 of Saturn's moons have been named and of them 13 have diameters exceeding 30 miles. Many of the moons of Saturn are small and are made of icy bodies, their diameters ranging from a few miles across to large celestial bodies like Titan. The rings of Saturn have hundreds of small rocks which are detected when they cause a disturbance in the surrounding structure of the rings, technically they too are moons, although an exact number is difficult to calculate. Let's take a look at the moon system of Saturn.

Inner Large Moons of Saturn

Mimas
Mimas is seventh satellite of Saturn, discovered by William Herschel in 1789. One of the craters on the surface of Mimas is named after Herschel and has a diameter of 80 miles. The surface of Mimas is scattered with craters.

Enceladus
This moon was discovered by Herschel in 1789 and is one of the innermost moons of Saturn. The size of Enceladus is similar to that of Mimas. However, it has a brighter and a smoother surface than Mimas and reflects nearly all the sunlight it receives. The craters of this moon of Saturn are no larger than 20 miles in diameter.

Tethys
Giovanni Cassini discovered this moon of Saturn in the year 1684. The surface of Tethys is cracked due to the faults in the ice and is heavily cratered. It is also covered with water-ice particles. One of the trenches of Tethys is almost 40 miles wide. This trench is called the Ithaca Chasma.

Dione
The second-largest inner moon of Saturn, Dione was discovered by Cassini in 1684 and is also known as Saturn IV. Named after a Titan from Greek mythology, in terms of physical characteristics, Dione is an icy moon with many deep chasm-like depressions along its surface, with ridges and large craters.

Outer Large Moons of Saturn

Rhea
In 1672, Cassini discovered Rhea. This moon has no air and is known as the largest airless satellite of Saturn. The surface of Rhea is divided geologically into different regions based upon the density of its craters. A crater that is larger than 24 miles in diameter falls under the first region while a crater that is less than this diameter comes under region two. Rhea is the second-largest moon of Saturn.

Titan
In 1655, Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch astronomer discovered the largest moon of Saturn and named it Titan. Titan is the second-largest moon in the solar system and measures around 3200 miles across.The atmosphere of this moon consists of ice and rocky materials and is nearly 500 miles thick.

Hyperion
Discovered by William Cranch Bond, George Phillips Bond and William Lassell in 1848, Hyperion, also known as Saturn VII is the first moon to be discovered which is not round and is made mostly of ice, with very little deposits of rock, and a surface that looks like a sponge.

Iapetus
Cassini discovered Iapetus in October 1671 and made a remarkable observation. The moon had a dark and bright hemisphere, keeping only one side towards Saturn and could be viewed from Earth, only when it presented its bright and dark sides on the western and eastern sides of Saturn, respectively. Iapetus is also the third largest of Saturn's moons and has a distinctive ridge running around the equator.

Phoebe
The first moon of Saturn to be discovered photographically, Phoebe was discovered by William Henry Pickering on 17 March 1899, exposed on photographic plates atop the Boyden Observatory in Peru. It has a diameter of 132 miles and for nearly 100 years was the only known outer moon of Saturn until the other moons were discovered in 2000. The Cassini spacecraft photographed it in 2004 and images reveal it may have large ice deposits under its surface.

Ring Moons

Saturn also has several moons orbiting within, or on the borders of its many rings, these can be termed ring moons.

Pan
Pan is a moon of Saturn that orbits within its A-ring. Discovered by Mark R. Showalter in 1990 from a study of imagery from the Voyager 2 spacecraft, it is shaped like a walnut and is about 20 miles across. It orbits within a gap in the rings of Saturn termed the Encke Gap.

Daphnis
This moon of Saturn is also found in the A-ring of the planet and is about 5 miles in diameter. Daphnis is present in a ring-gap called the Keeler Gap and was discovered by the Cassini Imaging Science Team in 2005.

Atlas
The moon named after the Titan of Greek mythology who holds the world on his shoulders, Atlas was discovered by Richard Terrile in 1980. Although initially thought to be a shepherd satellite, it is now known to orbit at the extreme edge of the A-ring of Saturn.

Prometheus
Named after a Greek Titan in 1985, Prometheus is a shepherd satellite orbiting within Saturn's F-ring. It is stretched like a rubber-band, with a length of almost 84 miles. It is marked with numerous ridges and valleys and has many large impact craters. It has also been observed to disturb the orbit of Atlas at times.

Pandora
Images from the Voyager I spacecraft helped discover Pandora in 1980, a Saturnian moon which orbits inside Saturn's F-ring. Like Prometheus it also has many large craters and is an icy, porous celestial body.

Epimetheus
One of the inner moons of Saturn, Epimetheus, named after the brother of the Titan, Prometheus, was discovered by Richard Walker in 1966. It shares the same orbit as another of Saturn's inner moons, Janus. It is a large body almost 37 miles in diameter and is heavily cratered.

Aegaeon
Discovered by Carolyn Porco in 2009, Aegaeon travels the G-ring of Saturn and debris from the moon forms a visible arc spreading throughout the ring. It is a small moon, only about 0.3 miles in diameter.

Alkyonides Moons

Named after the seven daughters of Alcyoneus, from Greek mythology, the Alkyonides moons are small heavenly bodies traveling in an orbit between the two larger moons, Mimas and Enceladus.

Methone
A remarkable crater-less face and a weird egg-shaped design make this moon of Saturn a unique one. It travels between the orbits of two larger moons, Mimas and Enceladus and was closely observed by the Cassini spacecraft in 2012 from a distance of only about 1100 miles.

Anthe
Anthe was discovered by the Cassini Imaging Team in 2007 and like Methone also lies between the orbits of Mimas and Enceladus and its name means flowery in Greek.

Pallene
Also
discovered by the Cassini Imaging Team in 2004, Pallene lies between the orbits of Mimas and Enceladus and was first photographed by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1981. Meteor impacts have caused debris from Pallene to form a sort of ring around it, it has been named the Pallene Ring.

Co-orbital Moons and Trojan Moons

There are co-orbital moons in the Saturn moon system too and also smaller co-orbital bodies in the wake of larger moons known as Trojans.

Janus
Another inner moon of Saturn, Janus holds the same orbit as Epimetheus and was first observed by Audouin Dollfus in 1966. It caused consternation for astronomers because they were trying to observe a single moon in an orbit that contained two, and it was a while before the celestial mechanics in motion were figured out. The first confirmed sighting was made by the spacecraft Voyager I, Janus is made of ice and rock and has many huge craters on its surface.

Telesto
Another moon of Saturn that shares its orbit with another, Telesto was first discovered in 1981. It is termed a Trojan moon and lies in the same orbit as the larger Tethys and has a smooth surface, with very little cratering.

Calypso
A Trojan moon discovered in 1980, Calypso also lies in the same orbit as another of Saturn's moons Tethys. It is irregular in shape, has a very bright reflective surface and numerous large craters.

Helene
First observed in 1980, Helene is named after Helen of Troy who according to Greek legend was the granddaughter of Cronus, or Saturn. It lies in the same orbit with the larger Saturnian moon Dione and is also referred to as a Trojan moon.

Polydeuces
Also a Trojan moon with a diameter of about 2 miles, Polydeuces is a small moon of Saturn that lies in the same orbit with the moon Dione and was first observed by the Cassini Imaging Team in 2004.

Small Moons

Apart from these moons Saturn also has a number of smaller moons orbiting around it, which are however, in distant orbits around the planet. These moons are named after Gods from Inuit, Gallic and Norse mythology and are as follows
Kiviuq
Diameter: 10 miles
Distance from Saturn: 6.8 million miles
Discovered: 2000
Ijiraq
Diameter: 7 miles
Distance from Saturn: 6.8 million miles
Discovered: 2000
Fornjot
Diameter: 3.7 miles
Distance from Saturn: 14.2 million miles
Discovered: 2004
Paaliaq
Diameter: 13 miles
Distance from Saturn: 9 million miles
Discovered: 2000
Siarnaq
Diameter: 24 miles
Distance from Saturn: 10 million miles
Discovered: 2000
Tarqeq
Diameter: 4 miles
Distance from Saturn: 10 million miles
Discovered: 2007
Albiorix
Diameter: 19 miles
Distance from Saturn: 10 million miles
Discovered: 2000
Bebhionn
Diameter: 3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 10 million miles
Discovered: 2005
Erriapus
Diameter: 6 miles
Distance from Saturn: 11 million miles
Discovered: 2003
Tarvos
Diameter: 9 miles
Distance from Saturn: 11 million miles
Discovered: 2000
Skathi
Diameter: 5 miles
Distance from Saturn: 9 million miles
Discovered: 2000
S/2007 S 2
Diameter: 3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 10 million miles
Discovered: 2007
Skoll
Diameter: 3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 10 million miles
Discovered: 2006
Greip
Diameter: 3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 11 million miles
Discovered: 2006
Hyrrokkin
Diameter: 5 miles
Distance from Saturn: 11 million miles
Discovered: 2006
S/2004 S 13
Diameter: 3.7 miles
Distance from Saturn: 11 million miles
Discovered: 2004
Jarnsaxa
Diameter: 3.7 miles
Distance from Saturn: 11 million miles
Discovered: 2006
Mundilfari
Diameter: 4.3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 11 million miles
Discovered: 2000
S/2006 S 1
Diameter: 3.7 miles
Distance from Saturn: 11 million miles
Discovered: 2006
S/2004 S 17
Diameter: 2 miles
Distance from Saturn: 12 million miles
Discovered: 2004
Narvi
Diameter: 4 miles
Distance from Saturn: 12 million miles
Discovered: 2006
Bergelmir
Diameter: 3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 12 million miles
Discovered: 2004
Suttungr
Diameter: 4 miles
Distance from Saturn: 12 million miles
Discovered: 2000
S/2004 S 12
Diameter: 3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 12 million miles
Discovered: 2004
S/2004 S 7
Diameter: 3.5 miles
Distance from Saturn: 13 million miles
Discovered: 2004
Hati
Diameter: 3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 13 million miles
Discovered: 2004
Bestla
Diameter: 4 miles
Distance from Saturn: 13 million miles
Discovered: 2004
Farbauti
Diameter: 3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 13 million miles
Discovered:
Thrymr
Diameter: 4 miles
Distance from Saturn: 13 million miles
Discovered: 2000
S/2007 S 3
Diameter: 3 miles
Distance from Saturn: 12 million miles
Discovered: 2007
Aegir
Diameter: 3.7 miles
Distance from Saturn: 11 million miles
Discovered: 2004
S/2006 S 3
Diameter: 3.7 miles
Distance from Saturn: 13 million miles
Discovered: 2006
Kari
Diameter: 4 miles
Distance from Saturn: 13.6 million miles
Discovered: 2006
Fenrir
Diameter: 2.4 miles
Distance from Saturn: 13.6 million miles
Discovered: 2004
Surtur
Diameter: 3.7 miles
Distance from Saturn: 13.6 million miles
Discovered: 2006
Ymir
Diameter: 11 miles
Distance from Saturn: 14.9 million miles
Discovered: 2000
Loge
Diameter: 3.7 miles
Distance from Saturn: 14.2 million miles
Discovered: 2006

This was a quick look at the various moons that orbit Saturn. There are other moons too, hypothetical ones like Chiron and Themis which were claimed to have been observed by astronomers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but were never seen again. The satellite system of the 6th planet in our solar system is indeed a massive and complex one, and as further studies are undertaken there shall be still newer discoveries made in the future.
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