All the talk in the media over the past few years has been about Mars, and historically, humans have only landed on the moon. Whilst we haven’t been further than this ourselves, the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts have been past the Jovian planets, including Saturn. But just how long did it take them to get there, and how greater distance is there between us and Saturn? That’s what we’re going to be running through.
How many miles away is Saturn from Earth?
The distance between Saturn and the Earth varies depending on where they are in their stage of orbit. At the shortest, Saturn can be as close as 746 million miles away from Earth. At its largest though, Saturn can be more than a billion miles away from our planet.
And as mentioned, much of this depends on where exactly the two planets are in their cycle. We know that it takes Earth 365 days for it to complete on full orbit around the Sun. However, this pales in comparison to the 29 years it takes Saturn to make it all the way around the center of our solar system.
We can put this in perspective best by using astronomical units to see just how far it is from the Earth. Astronomical units, or AU, at based on the distance the Earth is from the Sun, which is 1 AU. In comparison, Saturn is 9.5 AU away from the Sun, and at its shortest, Saturn is still 7 AU away from the Earth, and on average, it’s 8.5AU.
This means that there’s actually only certain times of year that it’s possible to spot the planet Saturn, which is notoriously pretty difficult to see in the night sky anyway. Though the truth is that it is possible to see all of the planets with a telescope at some point, even Neptune which is the furthest away of the bunch. You can find more cool facts about Saturn right here.
So, we know that the distance between Earth and Saturn is great, but it doesn’t stop there. The further out into the solar system you go from the Sun, the larger the distances between the planets become. If we measure the distance between Saturn and Uranus, it comes out at around 9.7 AU, which is equal to approximately 900 million miles. That’s more than double the distance between Jupiter and Saturn.
And going out even further than this, the distance between Uranus and Neptune is more than a billion miles. Now, there’s definitely a factor of size and mass that comes into this, because although Jupiter and Saturn are closer to the Sun, they’re made of less solid materials. Uranus and Neptune are so far out because they’re less influenced by the gravitational pull of the Sun.
And the truth is that these larger planets – we refer to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune as the Jovian planets – are so far apart from necessity. They don’t interact with each other’s orbits, which would be a big problem if they were as close to each other as the terrestrial planets. Mars and the Earth are only around 0.5 AU away from each other, which is actually super close in space terms.
Overall, although Saturn is sometimes more than a billion miles away from our planet, at the right time of year in good conditions, we can see it in the night sky. Much like its brother planet Jupiter, Saturn is almost entirely made up of gas, with only a small core in its center being made of solid materials. Despite this, it does need a lot of space around the planet for it not to interfere with other planets.