An artist’s conception of the 20 newly discovered moons orbiting Saturn. These discoveries bring the planet’s total moon count to 82, surpassing Jupiter for the most in our solar system. Courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Saturn from NASA/JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute; starry background courtesy of Paolo Sartorio/Shutterstock
Aww, I feel sorry for Jupiter. The solar system’s largest planet also had the most moon critters circling around it — 79 total. No more. With the help of the giant Subaru telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii 20 new moons were recently added to Saturn’s tally making 82 and crowning it the new king of the moons!
Here the Subaru Telescope shoots a laser beam into the upper atmosphere to generate an artificial guide star it will use to track air turbulence. The 8.2 meter reflecting telescope was used to track down Saturn’s latest batch of moons. Daniel Birchall
Most of the new objects are only about 3 miles (5 km) in diameter. 17 of them orbit the planet backwards, or retrograde, opposite the direction Saturn rotates. The other three orbit in the normal direction, or prograde. Two of the prograde moons are closer to the planet and take ...