August 26 – Voyager 2 reaches Saturn

August 26th 1981 was the date on which Voyager 2 made its closest approach to Saturn. Voyager 1 had already been and gone 9 months previously, despite being launched second, and between them the Voyager twins greatly increased our knowledge of the most beautiful of all the planets. They found, among other things, that (i) the atmosphere is nearly all hydrogen and helium (Saturn would float in water if an appropriately-sized bath could be constructed); (ii) it is a very cold place (-200 to -300°F); (iii) it’s also a bit blowy (wind speeds recorded over 1,100 mph), and (iv) it rotates every 10 hours 39 minutes and 24 seconds.

Saturn's Rings from Voyager 2 (image credit: NASA)

Saturn’s Rings from Voyager 2 (image credit: NASA)

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