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The Planet Saturn

Increase your child's knowledge about Saturn, the second largest planet in the solar system.


Saturn or Kronos is one of the titans in Greek mythology, and father of Jupiter or Zeus. It is the second largest planet in the solar system, and is the sixth planet in the Solar System, after Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter.


How many satellites does Saturn have?

31 satellites have been officially discovered and named so far. However, there have been reports of sightings of at least 2 to 4 more satellites, although these sightings have not been officially confirmed. Sightings often take place when the Earth crosses the Saturn ring plane.


What is Saturn composed of?

Like Jupiter, Saturn too is a gaseous planet. It has a rocky interior, and is surrounded by thick gasses, mostly hydrogen and helium with some water, that make up the rest of the planet. Saturn is the least dense of all planets. Its density is in fact even lower than water, which means Saturn could actually float! What does Saturn look like? Saturn looks like a ball that has been flattened from the top and bottom. This flattening is due to its speedy rotation around its axis. Although the other gaseous planets also appear flat from the top and bottom, Saturn appears the flattest.


How bright is Saturn?

Saturn is bright enough to be seen from the Earth with the naked eye. Look up to the sky on a clear night, and it is likely you will be able to see Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. They shine just as brightly as the stars, but they don't twinkle. However, you will not be able to see the rings of Saturn without a telescope.


What are the rings?

The rings of Saturn were first observed by Galileo in the year 1610. Two years later when Galileo observed the planet again, to his surprise he couldn't see the rings! They had vanished! He didn't know what to think. What had actually happened was that Earth was passing through the Saturn Ring plane, and as a result the ring appeared almost invisible.

The rings of Saturn are incredibly thin, which is why they are not visible when the Earth crosses the ring plane. While the rings are around 250,000 km wide, they are less than one km thick! There was a lot of confusion with regard to the rings earlier on, since, with every observation, they appeared to look different. This was happening due to Earth's rotation, where the rings were being observed from different angles. Observations so far seem to suggest the existence of three main rings, A, B, and C, with fainter rings on the outside of these, named as G, E and F.

These rings seem to be single, continuous bands when observed from the Earth, but in fact the rings are composed of millions of small particles circling Saturn. These particles are mostly ice.


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