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Does Saturn Have Seasons?

does-saturn-have-seasons

ANSWER:

Saturn DOES have seasons.

More Info: Saturn has an axial tilt of about 27 degrees, which is slightly larger than that of Earth, so Saturn does have seasons.  However, with Saturn’s long orbit of 29 Earth years each of Saturn’s seasons is over 7 years long.

The Seasons of Saturn

The seasons of Saturn are most obviously observed by the tilt of Saturn’s rings, which follow the same axis as the planet itself.  When it is summer in Saturn’s northern hemisphere the northern side of the rings faces the sun and when it is winter in the northern hemisphere the southern side of the rings faces the sun.  In the transitional seasons, the rings face the sun edge-on and become almost invisible from the lack of illumination.

How the Seasons Affect Weather Patterns

The seasons also affect the weather patterns in the turbulent atmosphere.  When the rings are partially facing the sun and therefore illuminated they also block some sunlight from reaching Saturn.  The temperature is lower in the shadowed area and the temperature differential creates convection currents.  Like Jupiter, Saturn often has massive cyclic storms visible in its atmosphere, and the seasons are thought to contribute to Saturn’s stormy weather.

Saturn’s Megastorms

A very large storm was observed on Saturn’s north pole in 2010 which was Saturn’s spring in the northern hemisphere.  Now the sun is shining on the north pole giving a clearer view of the megastorm.  Only five other megastorms have been observed on Saturn since 1876.

 

Resources

“A Change of Seasons on Saturn.” Views of the Solar System. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.  http://www.solarviews.com/cap/sat/PIA03156.htm

“A Change of Seasons on Saturn.” The Planetary Rings Node. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.  http://pds-rings.seti.org/saturn/earthbased/prc0115.html

” Saturn Super-Storm Photos | 11alive.com.” Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, Sports and Entertainment | Atlanta, GA | 11Alive.com WXIA TV. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.  http://www.11alive.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=266201

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