Twenty new moons have been found around Saturn, giving the ringed planet a total of 82, scientists said Monday. That beats Jupiter and its 79 moons.
“It was fun to find that Saturn is the true moon king,” said astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
Each of the discovered moons is about five kilometers, or three miles, in diameter. Seventeen of them orbit in a retrograde direction (movement is opposite of the planet’s rotation around its axis).The other three moons orbit in the prograde—the same direction as Saturn rotates.
Two of the prograde moons are closer to the planet and take about two years to travel once around Saturn. The more-distant retrograde moons and one of the prograde moons each take more than three years to complete an orbit.
“Studying the orbits of these moons can reveal their origins, as well as information about the conditions surrounding Saturn at the time of its formation,” Sheppard explained.
You can help name the moons on http:www.carnegiescience.edu/NameSaturnsMoons