Phoebe is one of the most interesting moons that orbits the planet Saturn. It orbits it at a very far distance – the furthest out of any of the major moons of Saturn. For many years it was thought that Phoebe was a stray asteroid that somehow made it’s was into Saturn’s gravitational pull. However, recent discoveries suggest this isn’t actually the case. Let’s look at some facts about Phoebe.
Phoebe Moon Facts
- Phoebe has an estimated diameter of 132 miles (213 kilometers).
- This means that it is less than 0.2% the size of the planet that it orbits, Saturn.
- Phoebe orbits Saturn from a massive distance of more than 8,000,000 miles. This is further than any other major moon.
- Because of it’s distance from Saturn, it takes it 551 days for it to complete one full orbit of the planet.
- Phoebe takes it’s name from a Titaness from Greek mythology.
- The craters on Phoebe’s surface are given names from the myth Jason and the Argonauts.
- There are many of these craters on it’s surface, with the largest of them being around 80km in diameter.
- Phoebe was discovered in 1899 by William Henry Pickering, an American astronomer.
- The average temperature on the surface of Phoebe is around 198°c.
- Phoebe is a moon that orbits in retrograde. This means it orbits the opposite way that Saturn rotates!
Common Questions about Phoebe
Where did Phoebe get it’s name?
Phoebe takes it’s name from Greek mythology, like many of the planets and moons in our solar system. Phoebe was one of the first Titans, and she was actually grandparent to both Apollo and Artemis, who were the God and Goddess of the Sun and the Moon. Many other moons of Saturn take their name from the same family tree as Phoebe, like Tethys and Iapetus.
What is Phoebe made of?
We aren’t entirely sure what the inner core of Phoebe is made up of. It’s likely that like many of the moons, it consists of water ice and rock. It is likely that it’s body is more than 50% rock due to it’s quite large mass for it’s size. Phoebe does have a spherical shape, which may suggest that it has a high level of gravity.
What is on Phoebe’s surface?
The moon Phoebe has a much darker surface than many of the other moons of Saturn, which tend to have a much lighter surface. Originally, astronomers assumed Phoebe to be an asteroid that was captured by Saturn’s gravity. But more recent research from the Cassini-Huygens mission suggests that actually, Phoebe is more similar to the other moons than first thought, and may have been around for much longer. It also suggests that instead of being an asteroid, Phoebe may be an object captured from further out in the Kuiper belt. There are also many craters all across the surface of this moon.
What are Phoebe’s orbiting patterns?
Due to it’s far proximity from Saturn, it takes Phoebe a long time to orbits around the planet. It also has a retrograde orbit, which means that it orbits the planet in the opposite way that it rotates. It is much larger than any of the other moons within a close distance, with Iapetus being the closest major moon.
Can I see Phoebe with a telescope?
It is very difficult to see the moon Phoebe with a telescope, but it is definitely possible. After all; that’s how this moon was discovered in the first place.
So, these are just some facts about the moon Phoebe. It is an interesting on, even though it’s small, there is still a lot more to learn about this unique moon.