• Matthew Cobb

A Review of Saturn

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

On January 5, 2016, The Atlantic published an article titled “Why Saturn is the Best Planet”. The article was released as a correction to an earlier one making the same claim about Jupiter, and proceeded to go about justifying it. Erroneously. Saturn is not the best planet, and neither is Jupiter, and the praise being heaped upon this mass of Helium and Hydrogen is completely undeserved.


Image Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/saturn/overview/


THE PLANET

Saturn is the second largest planet and over four billion years old. Some scientists believe that Saturn is the oldest planet to the point where Assyrians named it “Lubadgagush” or “oldest of the old.” Sure, age is helpful with wine and historical landmarks, but it also comes with issues. Biologically, the older a person gets, the more likely they are to not be able to change their mind. They have health issues, like prunes, and fall asleep at inopportune times. On a planetary scale, the old person smell must be ridiculous.


Image Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p018q5t9/p018q087


Not to mention that the entire thing is made of gas – also common with age – and not only can it not support life, life cannot even step foot on it. And it is plagued by large storms called “White Spots”. Racial connotations aside, storms are crazy. One thing humans love is dogs. Dogs hate storms. Saturn is covered in giant storms. Dogs would hate Saturn, and therefore humans should too.


Image Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/saturn/in-depth/


THE RINGS

Honestly, the biggest draw for Saturn are its rings. Stretching around the planet, they are undeniably pretty to look at, and have been since Christian Huygens first discovered them in 1659. (Technically Galileo saw them first, but he didn’t know what they were). But people shouldn’t be fooled. The rings can only be seen with a telescope, and due their thinness, they disappear from view every twenty-nine and a half years.


The rings are divided into groups. There are the D ring, the C ring, B ring, F ring, G and E rings. To repeat, Saturn has an F ring. Kids are taught about planets in school, and they are exposed to a planet with a prominent F ring, which is just completely inappropriate. This is a point where people can be thankful that the rings are not visible, but that’s a small comfort. Thankfully, the rings will be lost in one hundred million years due to gravity, at which point Saturn may be more appropriate for younger audiences, even as it loses its main appeal.


THE MOONS

Saturn has a lot of moons. Over fifty confirmed, and around thirty awaiting confirmation. These moons have various sizes and attributes, and the largest, Titan, is larger than Mercury. So why isn’t Titan a planet? Pluto getting cast out of the astronomical pecking order was already a big deal, and now Saturn is taking the glory from its moons. Heck, Titan may be able to support life, a huge deal, but Saturn manages to steal the thunder just from pretty rings and bigger size, undoubtedly an attention hog. Titan needs recognition.


Titan. Image Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2017/10/16/555045041/confession-of-a-planetary-scientist-i-do-not-want-to-live-on-mars


IN POP CULTURE

People should not forget Saturn’s portrayals in pop culture. For every instance of Beyonce singing about how he “should have put a ring on it”, there are many less flattering portrayals. In Journey into Mystery #83, known for featuring the first appearance of Marvel’s Mighty Thor, Thor stops an invasion of Stone Men from Saturn. That wasn’t even Marvel’s first Saturn invasion, as Saturn Men tried to invade in Strange Tales #1, ten years earlier.


The planet was eaten by Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and the moon Rhea was used as an outpost in Independence Day: Resurgence. Saturn agreeing to appear in both properties shows a deep lack of art appreciation. Futurama had the right idea, using the moon of Enceladus as a dump moon, and Beetlejuice showed the planet covered in sandworms, both very telling. Sure, some of the moons are inhabited in the excellent Cowboy Bebop, but then Sephiroth destroyed the rings in Final Fantasy VII. These are not flattering portrayals of a so-called “beautiful and majestic” planet, and should not be treated as such.


Saturn's Demise in Rise of the Silver Surfer

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36NtejwGgcQ


THE VERDICT

Saturn is an overrated planet, one that sends out creepy radio transmissions and may have been responsible for the biblical Great Flood. For too long, Saturn has been fawned over, and treated like the pinnacle of interstellar beauty, and it is time that this was called out for the farce that it is! The Atlantic wrote “Why Saturn is the Best Planet”, and despite my respect for The Atlantic’s publications, on this subject, they were wrong. Saturn is not the best planet.

It’s Uranus.

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