While most of us can name a few moons located within our own solar system not many people can name ten of them. Not only that, but who would be able to put them in order? Well, I couldn’t, but after making this post I can…
The Top 10 Largest Planetary Moons in Our Solar System
10 – Oberon, Uranus – Diameter: 1,523 km (946 miles)
Also discovered by Herschel, it was given the name of the fairy king husband of Queen Titania, both of whom are characters in A Midsummer Nights Dream.
9 – Rhea, Saturn – Diameter: 1,529 km (950 miles)
This is Saturn’s second-largest moon and it was discovered by the seventeenth-century Italian-born French astronomer Giovanni Cassini. Voyager 1, which flew past Rhea in November 1980, confirmed that its icy surface is pitted with craters, one of which measured a mind-blowing 225 km/140 miles in diameter.
8 – Titania, Uranus – Diameter: 1,578 km (980 miles)
The largest of Uranus’s many moons, Titania was discovered by William Herschel in 1787 and it said to have a ‘snowball’ like surface of ice.
7 – Triton, Neptune – Diameter: 2,707 km (1682 miles)
Discovered on 10th of October 1846 by amateur beer brewer and amateur astronomer William Lassell, 17 days after he had discovered Neptune itself, Triton is the only known satellite in the Solar System that revolves around its planet in the opposite direction to the planet’s rotation. It is getting progressively closer Neptune, and it is believed that in several million years the force of the planet’s gravity may pull it apart, scattering it into a form like the ring of Saturn. Recent studies have more than halved Triton’s estimated size, relegating it from lst to 7th position in the Top 10 Moons, and removing it altogether from its place in the 10 largest bodies in the Solar System. Information sent back to Earth by Voyager 2 during August 1989 showed that Triton has an atmosphere composed largely of methane and a surface covered with methane ice glaciers.
6 – Europa, Jupiter – Diameter: 3,122 km (1939 miles)
Although Europa’s ice-covered surface is apparently smooth and crater-free, it is covered with mysterious black lines which are said to look like canals or canyons, some of which are 40 miles wide!
5 – Moon, Earth – Diameter: 3,475 km (2,159 miles)
The Moon is, of course, Earths own satellite and it is only a quarter of the size of our own Earth. It is the 5th largest in the solar system and to date, it is the only one to have been explored by humans!
4 – Io, Jupiter – Diameter: 3,643 km (2,263 miles)
Most of what we know about Io was reported back by the 1979 Voyager probe, which revealed a crust of solid sulphur with massive volcanic eruptions in progress, hurling sulphurous material 300 km/186 miles into space!
3 – Callisto, Jupiter – Diameter: 4,821 km (2,995 miles)
Possessing a very similar composition to Ganymede, Callisto is heavily pitted with craters, perhaps more so than any other body in the solar system.
2 – Titan, Saturn – Diameter: 5,150 km (3,200 miles)
Titan, the largest of Saturns many moons is actually larger than both Mercury and Pluto! It was discovered by the Dutch astronomer Christian Hygens in 1655. Currently we have no idea what its surface looks like because it has a dense atmosphere containing nitrogen, ethane and a few other gases which shroud its surface (not unlike that of Earth 4 billion years ago!) but data sent back from Voyager 1 during 1980 and recent radio telescope observations suggest that it may have ethane ‘oceans’ and ‘continents’ of ice or some other solid matter.
1 – Ganymede, Jupiter – Diameter: 5,262 km (2,031 miles)
Discovered by none other than Galileo way back in 1609-10 and believed to be the largest moon in the solar system, Ganymede – one of Juouters man satellites is thought to have a surface of ice about 97 km/60 miles thick. The 1979 Voyager 1 and 2 space probes both failed to detect evidence of an atmosphere which probably means there isn’t one.