Shaky rings help scientists measure Saturn’s days

A day on Saturn lasts for 10 hours, 33 minutes, and 38 seconds, according to a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal that used wobbles in Saturn’s rings to make the calculation. That’s several minutes shorter than older approximations of the gas giant’s day, but the new timetable lines up with some previous mathematical estimates.

It was hard for researchers to figure out how long a day was on Saturn for a few reasons. First, the planet has an incredibly thick and rotating atmosphere, which obscured the inner surface. That’s usually not a huge problem. When they can’t see how fast a planet’s surface is spinning, astronomers can generally measure movements in its magnetic field to figure out what’s going on inside. But Saturn’s…

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