Saturn Is the Solar System’s ‘Moon King,’ With 20 More Spotted

Red lines encircling a ball

"The discovering was introduced by the Worldwide Astronomical Union" s Minor Planet Heart, cited USA Right now. "This type of grouping of outer moons is also observed around Jupiter, indicating that violent collisions have occurred between moons of the Saturnian system, or with external objects such as asteroids or comets", notes the researcher.

Also, interestingly, only three of the new moons orbit Saturn in the same direction as it spins, the rest are retrograde and spin in the opposite direction.

"Using some of the largest telescopes in the world, we are now completing the inventory of small moons around the giant planets", said Sheppard. Sheppard said Jupiter was the planet with most known moons since the late 1990s, according to BBC News.

An artist's conception of the 20 newly discovered moons orbiting Saturn.

Although in the case of the highest number of moons, Saturn may have surpassed Jupiter, but the largest moon still is with Jupiter.

The institution writes that Saturn's outer moons "appear to be" grouped in three different "clusters" due to the "inclinations of the angles at which they are orbiting around the planet".

The astronomer also narrated how hard it was for them to spot small moons around Saturn, given that the planet is farther away, and its rings continuously obstruct their view. The new discoveries are cool in and of themselves, but ultimately, it's what they tell us about the solar system's formation that motivates Sheppard's search.

Want to name one of Saturn's moons? Two of the prograde moons require around two years to make a complete orbit of the gas giant, while the remaining 18 moons require more than three years to make a single orbit (our Moon requires 27 days to make a complete orbit around Earth).

The jury is still out on whether any planets beyond our solar system have even more moons. The far-flung one is the most distant Saturn satellite known and may belong to the "Gallic group".

Others suggested names along Sheppard's guidelines, including the hunter-warrior Fionn from Irish lore and Sila, the Inuit god believed to govern life and breath. The Carnegie Institution had a moon-naming contest for them; another is planned now for Saturn's new moons. Seventeen orbit Saturn opposite to the planet's rotation, and three in the same direction as Saturn's rotation. About 100 even tinier moons could well also be orbiting Saturn, peaceable waiting to be stumbled on, he said.

The winners of the Jupiter moon-naming contest were Pandia, Ersa, Eirene, Philophrosyne and Eupheme, all characters from Greek or Roman mythology related to Zeus, who is called Jupiter in Roman mythology.

"I was pretty excited about tonight, as I kind of love that stuff to lookup close to the Moon and the planets", described one of the students from the Computer Science program.

Two of the prograde moons were assigned to the Inuit group (shown in blue in the graphic above), the moons of which are named after Inuit mythology.

What's more, you - yes, you - can help name the new moons.

The rules mean two of Saturn's moons will have Canadian-inspired names - so start brushing up on your Inuit mythology.

The contest, which opened Monday and runs through December 6, is not entirely open, lest the American public be tempted to name the moons something ridiculous.