Saturn—the ringed planet
Saturn’s rings are among the most famous sights in all of astronomy. A few other planets have rings, but none are as prominent—or as beautiful—as Saturn’s.
Saturn is the sixth planet out from our sun, and bigger than any other planet except Jupiter. Even if we ignore its rings, Saturn is enormous—its volume is over 750 times that of the earth.
Where did this wonderful planet come from? Evolutionary astronomers tell us that Saturn, along with the other planets in our solar system, formed from a cloud of gas and dust about 4.6 billion years ago. Is this true?
Or is the Bible true instead? The Bible tells us that everything we see in the sky, which would include Saturn, was made on Day 4 of Creation Week (Genesis 1:14–19). This was about 6,000 years ago.
Obviously, the evolutionary story contradicts the biblical account.
Evolutionary astronomy vs the Bible
The standard evolutionary astronomy model contradicts the Bible in almost every way possible. Therefore, we know that the evolutionary model can’t be true. As the Word of God, the Bible stands on its own authority, contradictory accounts are wrong by definition (see also p. 50).
And the evidence confirms this truth. Like every other planet in our solar system, Saturn is a wonderful testimony to its recent creation.
The rings of Saturn
In a small telescope, Saturn appears to have one solid ring. However, we now know that Saturn has many thousands of rings, nested one inside another.
Nor are these rings solid. They’re actually made up of billions of particles, all orbiting the planet together. The smallest particles are grains of dust, while the largest are house-sized boulders. It was the great creationist physicist James Clerk Maxwell who first showed in 1850 that the rings had to be composed of particles, not a solid sheet or liquid.1
Compared to their width, Saturn’s rings are razor-thin (only 20 m (65 ft)average thickness). If we were to build a scale model of the rings, making the model the size of a large city, the rings would be only as thick as a sheet of paper.
Saturn defies evolution in many ways.
For example, scientists have discovered that Saturn’s magnetic field is symmetric around its spin axis. According to the billions-of-years theories, this cannot be.2 Therefore, Saturn cannot be billions of years old.
But that isn’t the worst problem Saturn poses for those who wish to deny the biblical account of creation.
According to evolution, Saturn can’t be here at all.
Along with Jupiter, Saturn is a ‘gas giant’ planet. The ringed planet is mostly hydrogen gas, and has a very low density. (In fact, Saturn would float on water—if you could find a big enough bathtub!)
But the evolutionary model says gas giants shouldn’t exist at all.
The evolutionary explanation for our solar system is that all the planets formed from a swirling cloud of gas and dust. These supposedly condensed into tiny particles, which stuck together to become rocks, which stuck together to become planets.
However, this idea has several fatal flaws.3 First of all, nobody can figure out how the particles would stick together to become rocks. They would be too small for their gravity to overcome the force of the collision.
More to the point, gas giant proto-planets wouldn’t last in this environment. Studies show that the cores of both Saturn and Jupiter would have moved inwards as the planets were forming, smashing into the sun.
Astronomers call this the ‘migration problem’—if the gas and dust model were true, both planets would have migrated into our sun billions of years ago. Neither Jupiter nor Saturn would exist today.4
However, we see both planets in our solar system. This obviously creates a problem for evolution. As one report explained:
‘Theories predict that the giant protoplanets will merge into the central star before planets have time to form. This makes it very difficult to understand how they can form at all.’5
That’s why evolutionists are making complaints like this one:
‘For scientists who spend time thinking about how planets form, life would be simpler if gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn didn’t exist.’6
Or this one:
‘Talk about a major embarrassment for planetary scientists. There, blazing away in the late evening sky, are Jupiter and Saturn—the gas giants that account for 93% of the solar system’s planetary mass—and no one has a satisfying explanation of how they were made.’7
The evolutionary model fails utterly to explain Saturn.
Conversely, the Creation model fits Saturn perfectly. As the Bible explains, this spectacular planet was made (along with the other heavenly objects) for signs and seasons (Genesis 1:14). It was also made to ‘declare the glory of God’ (Psalm 19:1)—and this it does very well indeed!
Saturn tells us that our Creator is not only majestic and powerful—He appreciates beauty as well.
|Mean distance from sun||1,434 million km or 891 million miles (9.58 × Earth)|
|Eccentricity of orbit||0.056 (Earth’s = 0.017)|
|Diameter||Equator 120,536 km (9.449 × Earth); polar 108,728 km|
|Mass||5.6846 ×1026 kg (95.26 × Earth, 30% Jupiter)|
|Volume||8.2713×1014 km³ (763.59 × Earth)|
|Mean Density||0.687 g/cm³, less than water (=1) (12.5% Earth)|
|Surface Gravity||10.44 N/kg (1.065 × Earth)|
|Escape Velocity||35.5 km/s (3.172 × Earth)|
|Sidereal orbital period (around sun, i.e. year)||29.46 Earth years|
|Orbital inclination||2°29.5′ (Earth’s = 0 by definition)|
|Rotation period (day)||10 hr 39 min (44.4% × Earth)|
|Axial tilt||26°7′ (cf. Earth 23°27′)|
|Atmospheric composition||~96% H2 , ~3% He (Earth 78% N2 , 21% O2 , 0.9% Ar)|
|Magnetic field strength at equator||0.2 gauss (~1⁄ 20 Jupiter, 64% Earth)|
|Number of moons||60 confirmed|
|* ‘The Solar System, Saturn’, The New Encyclopædia Britannica 27:568, 1992; ‘Saturn’, Wikipedia; Saturn Fact Sheet, NASA.|
References and notes
- Lamont, A., ‘James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879)’, Creation 15(3):45–47, 1993. Return to text.
- Evolutionists believe that planetary magnetism is caused by ‘dynamos’ deep inside each planet. This is the only way that a planet could still have a magnetic field after billions of years. One of the requirements for a dynamo is that the magnetic field can’t line up with the spin axis. However, Saturn’s does. (‘Saturn first dumbfounded planetary theorists who study dynamo models by having a highly symmetric internal magnetic field. A field that is symmetric about the rotation axis violates a basic theorem of magnetic dynamos.’ Bagenal, F., A new spin on Saturn’s rotation, Science 316 (5823):380–381, 20 April 2007.) Thus, Saturn’s magnetic field can’t be coming from a dynamo—which means it isn’t billions of years old. Saturn’s magnetic field looks quite young. Return to text.
- See also Sarfati, J., Earth is ‘too special’? Creation 28(3):42–44, 2006; <creation.com/earthspecial>. Return to text.
- The migration problem is explained in more detail in Creation’s article on Jupiter: Psarris, S., Jupiter: king of the planets, and testament to our Creator, Creation 30(3):38–40, 2008. Return to text.
- Astronomy & Astrophysics press release, 21 March 2006, The locked migration of giant protoplanets, <www.aanda.org/content/view/92/42/lang,en/>. Return to text.
- Than, K., Death spiral: why theorists can’t make solar systems, <www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060328_gas_giant.html>, 9 November 2007. Return to text.
- Kerr. R.A., A quickie birth for Jupiters and Saturns, Science 298(5599):1698–1699, 29 November 2002. Return to text.