Saturn and Neptune are two of the most iconic planets in the solar system. Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun, located in between Jupiter and Uranus. Neptune, on the other hand, is the eighth planet from the sun, with Uranus as its neighbor. Being located very differently within our solar system, it’s only natural to question and wonder how different these two planets are. And despite these differences, do they share any similarities? Let’s find out!
So, what are the main differences between Saturn vs. Neptune? The main differences between Saturn and Neptune are size, orbit, and temperature. Saturn is significantly bigger than Neptune. Saturn also orbits the sun much quicker (although much slower compared to Earth) than Neptune does. Saturn is also warmer than Neptune, both on its surface and at its core. There are other differences, such as how many moons and rings they both have.
As you can see, they are really quite different.
As we shall continue to explore, below.
What Are The Differences Between Saturn And Neptune?
Saturn and Neptune are different from one another in terms of size, orbit, temperature, number of moons, number of rings, axle tilt, their aesthetic, and wind speed.
So, it seems that there are quite a lot of differences between these two planets for us to investigate.
So let’s take a deeper look at the factors that distinguish Neptune and Saturn from one another.
Size and Mass
The differences in size and mass among the planets in our solar system are significant.
When it comes down to Saturn vs. Neptune, it is clear that Saturn is much larger in regards to size.
This is the case with all aspects, which include measurements with regard to diameter, surface area, and mass.
Saturn is the second biggest planet in our solar system, only second to Jupiter.
Neptune places as the fourth biggest planet, behind Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter, but above Earth and everyone else.
So, how much bigger is Saturn than Neptune?
Saturn has a diameter of 116,460km compared to Neptune’s diameter of a mere 49,244km.
Saturn’s surface area is 42.7 billion square kilometers; in contrast, Neptune has a surface area of 7.618 billion square kilometers.
Finally, the same is true with mass.
Saturn has a huge mass of 569,000,000,000 trillion metric tons compared to Neptune’ which is approximately 102,000,000,000 trillion metric tons.
Let’s look at it this way. 57 Earths can fit inside Neptune. Saturn, on the other hand, could fit up to 764 Earths inside it.
Orbit of the Sun
As previously discussed, Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun, whereas Neptune is the eighth.
Distance from the sun plays a significant factor when it comes to orbit.
With Saturn being closer to the sun, it takes less time for to complete its orbit. Saturn takes about 29.4 Earth years to orbit the sun.
Neptune is further away from the sun. So, consequently, it takes a, get ready for this, because it’s going to shock you…165 years to orbit the sun!! The longest time for any planet in our solar system. And that all comes down to it being so far away.
There are two key temperature measurements to take for a planet. The first is surface temperature, and the second is core temperature.
On both counts, Saturn is the hotter planet.
Saturn’s surface temperature is approximately -216 degrees Fahrenheit (-138 degrees Celsius). Pretty cold, right? Well, not as cold as Neptune. On the surface of Neptune, the temperature is about -140 degrees Fahrenheit (-220 degrees Celsius)
Saturn is also warmer at its core than Neptune. Saturn has a core temperature of approximately 21,902 degrees Fahrenheit (11,700 degrees Celsius), whilst Uranus has a core temperature of about 9,212 degrees Fahrenheit (5,100 degrees Celsius)
Number of Moons
Both planets do have moons in their orbit, but Neptune has significantly more. Neptune has 27 moons to date, whilst Saturn has an impressive 82 moons. It has the most moons compared to any other planet in our solar system.
When it comes to rings, Neptune actually, despite what some may believe, has rings. They’re just harder to see than Saturn’s rings, a feature which it is famous amongst us Earthlings for.
Saturn has 7 of these rings, which is just a couple more than Neptune, which has five!
Axel Tilt and Rotation
Not all planets tilt on the same axle. And this is still true when you compare Neptune and Saturn.
Neptune has an axial tilt of 28 degrees, whilst Saturn’s is about 27 degrees. Wow!
That’s pretty close to being similar, isn’t it? It’s so similar, in fact, that it almost falls into the similarities section. But alas, that 1-degree difference is still significant.
Especially when you consider that their rotation times are different.
This is the time it takes for a planet to rotate around its axis once.
Neptune takes 16 hours to complete one rotation, which is pretty similar to Uranus’ time. Saturn, on the other hand, takes just 10 hours and 34 minutes to complete one rotation.
Saturn has a pale yellow color. Neptune, on the other hand, is a deep blue, almost similar to that of Uranus’.
Winds can reach pretty high speeds on planets in our solar system.
When it comes to the wind speed race, Neptune’s winds, winds on this planet, within its atmosphere, can reach 2,000 kmph, which is faster than Saturn’s winds of 1,800 kmph.
Wind speeds on planets other than Earth can be impressive.
Saturn has the second fastest winds in our solar system. Winds here can reach as fast as 1,800 km/h. Neptune’s max wind speed is 900 km/h.
What Are The Similarities Between Saturn And Uranus?
Saturn and Neptune share orbit patterns, chemical compositions, the fact that they both have warmer cores than surface areas, both have gravitational relationships, they cannot support human life and therefore have never been visited by humans, they both have multiple moons and rings, and finally, they’re both about the same age.
So, turns out Saturn and Neptune have something, or should I say some things in common after all.
Time to take a look!
As discussed above, it takes Neptune much more time to orbit the sun than it does for Saturn.
However, the pattern that these planets’ orbit of the sun remains the same.
Both Neptune and Saturn, like all of the other planets in our solar system, have circular orbits of the sun.
Both Gas Giants
Both Neptune and Saturn belong to the same planet family. They are gas giants (gas planets).
A gas giant is a planet composed of gases, primarily hydrogen and helium. Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter, and Uranus are the four gas giants in our solar system.
FUN FACT: The other most common type of planet in our solar system is the terrestrial planet (also known as a telluric planet or rocky planet). These are planets that are composed primarily of silicate rocks or metals. The other terrestrial planets in our solar system are Venus, Mercury, Earth, and Mars!
Both Have a Hotter Central Core
Saturn has a hotter core temperature than Neptune’ and a hotter surface temperature as well.
Interestingly, though, both Saturn and Neptune have warmer core temperatures than they do surface temperatures.
Both planets have a gravitational pull force that interacts with the rest of the universe.
For both these planets, their gravitational keep their own moons in a particular orbit.
Can’t Support Human Life
No planet in our solar system, other than Earth, is habitable…without the right technology, of course.
For a start, we wouldn’t be able to survive their hostile temperatures on our own.
There also isn’t any or enough oxygen on either planet to keep us alive and breathing.
Humans Haven’t Visited
These planets are simply too far away for us to travel to at the moment. For us to be able to travel there, we’ll need to invent the technology to do so.
Both have Multiple Moons and Rings
Not all planets have moons. Not all planets have rings. Some have neither. But a special select few have both.
Saturn and Neptune are two planets that have multiple moons and rings.
Both Saturn and Neptune were created at a similar point in time and are, therefore, approximately 4.5 billion years old.
So, even though Saturn and Neptune are in the same planet family, there’s quite a lot that they don’t have in common.
Either way, these are two immensely fascinating planets.
Saturn is bigger than Neptune, from all specified measurements (diameter, surface area, and mass.)
Saturn is heavier than Neptune, by roughly 5 times. Saturn’s mass is 569,000,000,000 trillion metric tons compared to Neptune’s 102,000,000,000 trillion metric tons.
Neptune is colder than Saturn in regards to both surface and core temperature.
Other planetary comparisons you may want to see:
- Saturn vs Earth [How Do The Planets Differ?]
- Saturn vs Uranus [How Do The Planets Differ?]
- Saturn vs Venus [How Do The Planets Differ?]
- Saturn vs Mars [How Do The Planets Differ?]
- Saturn vs Jupiter [How Do The Planets Differ?]
Hey, my name is Chris. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.