The never-ending search for heavenly bodies allowed scientists to discover and learn more about the universe. The recent discovery of 20 more new moons orbiting Saturn allowed it to unseat Jupiter as the moon king of the solar system.

As of the latest count, Saturn has now a total of 82 moons as compared to 79 orbiting Jupiter. The discovery confirmed the suspicion of scientists that there is more to Saturn’s rings than meets the eye.

Scientists, however, are quick to appease the Jupiter crowd by saying that it is still the biggest planet in the solar system and also is the one that has the largest moon. In fact, scientists reveal that this particular moon, named Ganymede, is nearly half the size of Earth.

Saturn is the new true moon king with discovery of 20 new moons Saturn is the new true moon king with discovery of 20 new moons. Photo: WikiImages - Pixabay

In comparison, the newly-discovered moons of Saturn are small, with each one having approximately 3 miles in diameter. Still, as Carnegie Institution for Science astronomer Scott Sheppard says, it was fun to find out that Saturn is the true moon king after all.

He revealed that he and his team studied the rings of Saturn in the summer using a telescope located in Hawaii. Sheppard noted that there may be a hundred more moons, albeit smaller, orbiting Saturn still waiting to be discovered.

The astronomer also narrated how difficult it was for them to spot small moons around Saturn, given that the planet is farther away, and its rings continuously obstruct their view. Sheppard believes that these small moons may have been once part of a bigger moon that broke apart during the formation of the planet.

While some of these baby moons may stay hidden for the moment, Sheppard said that they might see them if astronomers use a larger and more powerful telescope. The astronomer also noted that 17 of the 20 newly discovered moons orbit Saturn in the opposite direction while the other three orbit the same path that Saturn spins.

Another notable thing about the new moons is they are so far away from the planet that it takes them more than two years to finish a single orbit. Sheppard said it’s essential to study the moons as they hold clues on how the planets formed, being remnants of the mother planet itself.

The astronomer also said that more moons are waiting to be discovered, which means Saturn may not sit forever as the solar system’s true moon king. For now, however, it has the distinction of being one, until more moons are discovered in the future orbiting another planet.