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62142.  Mon Mar 27, 2006 3:30 pm Reply with quote

"The density of Saturn is about 0.7% that of water. Though it's the second largest planet, after Jupiter, it is the least dense of them all the planets"

So, could you stand on Saturn, then? (Assuming you happened to be in the vicinity). I mean, is there something firm and planetty there to actually support you? Could you leave a footprint?

62145.  Mon Mar 27, 2006 4:51 pm Reply with quote

Hi Mat,

Sorry about that typo, which I've corrected.

I don't think you could stand on Saturn, no. It's gassy on the outside and then turns into liquid hydrogen and helium. This 'sea' is extremely deep, there's no 'land' anywhere.

I suppose you might be able to stand on the 'sea-bed' as it were, because they seem to think there's a rocky core somewhere. But it would be about as sensible as trying to stand at the centre of the sun.

The internal temperature of Saturn reaches 35,000F.

62158.  Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:16 pm Reply with quote

'Solar system' rather than 'Universe', perhaps?

62160.  Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:26 pm Reply with quote

Well, I'm trying to shunt it towards poo and away from astronomy. "Solar System" is more of a give away, don't you think?

What about:

Who is responsible for the largest floater ever discovered?

62163.  Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:35 pm Reply with quote

Where's the largest floater anyone has ever seen?

62165.  Mon Mar 27, 2006 7:16 pm Reply with quote

Getting there...

62179.  Tue Mar 28, 2006 4:03 am Reply with quote

Where's the biggest floater under the Sun?

62186.  Tue Mar 28, 2006 4:41 am Reply with quote

So ... if you can’t stand on it, what makes it a “planet”? If it’s just a load of gas, does its planethood depend on long-term integrity, or having an orbit, or is it just size ... ?

Dictionary isn't much help; Chamber’s defines planet as “in old astronomy, a heavenly body whose place among the fixed stars is not fixed: a body (other than a comet or meteor) that revolves around the sun reflecting the sun’s light and generating no heat or light of its own [Surely that should be “a” sun, not “the” sun?]: a satellite of a planet: an astrological influence vaguely conceived.

I like that last one. But what is “old astronomy”? Is there a “new astronomy”? And if so, what does it think a planet is?

If I was in charge of defining planets, which I'm not currently, I would exclude anything you couldn't land a flying saucer on for starters.

62196.  Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:19 am Reply with quote

The issue of how you define a planet is a live and controversial one, and the responsibility of a body called the IAU, I think. I believe that astronomers aren't much interested in the outcome, because it's likely to be more to do with tradition and not upsetting the lay audience than it is with science - ie at best it'll be arbitrary and at worst they'll just try to come up with a definition which includes Pluto but excludes all the other big rocks they keep finding.

In Dan Dare the inhabitants of Saturn either live in the cloud layer or float through the gassy central portion, if memory serves. They are huge, like giant manta rays. I hope this helps.

62197.  Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:22 am Reply with quote

Good suggestions Flashy, I'll change the question.

62200.  Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:25 am Reply with quote


But, hmm...

It makes it look a bit easy I think.

Anyone else got a view?

62445.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:10 am Reply with quote

Saturn's density is 70% that of water, not 0.7%.

It's roughly 0.7 grammes per cubic cm, whereas water is 1 gramme per cubic cm.

It's still less dense than water, so it's okay - I'm just being an accuracy pedant...

62447.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:11 am Reply with quote

Maybe 'How big is the biggest recorded floater?' - that way you don't have 'the sun' give it away.

62459.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:32 am Reply with quote

True, but I don't think it does give it away for two reasons:

1) 'under the Sun' is normally taken to mean 'anywhere', and

2) even if they did smell a rat they're unlikely to know the answer (and if they do, good luck to them, I say).

62475.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 9:29 am Reply with quote

Thanks, Chris.

Quite right about the density percentage. Ludicrous error on my part.

I spent a lot of time researching and rewriting this stuff but I missed the only really crucial figure by slavishly copying it from somewhere.

Tutty tut tut. Smacky wristy.


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