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Facts About Saturn

1 Orbit of Sun
10,759.2 Days
1 Rotation
10 hours 13 mins
Mass
95 times more than Earth
Volume
744 times more than Earth
Escape Velocity
127,782 km/h (79,400 mph)
Distance From Sun
1,429 million kilometers (888 million miles)
Avg Temperature
-184°C (-300°F)
Atmosphere
Hydrogen, Helium, Methane
Diameter
120,536 kilometers (74,898 miles)

Did you know?

Saturn is the furthest planet from Earth that can be seen without the help of a telescope.

The beautiful golden planet with the rings is Saturn. Since Saturn is visible with the naked eye, it is unclear who exactly discovered it. However, no one knew that Saturn had rings until 1610 when Galileo Galilei first looked at the planet with his telescope. An illustration showing Saturn and its rings.

How much would you weigh on Saturn?

Because Saturn is bigger than the Earth, you would weigh more on Saturn than you do here. If you weigh 70 (32 kg) pounds on Earth, you would weigh 74.5 pounds (34 kg) on Saturn. Not as much as you thought, right?
 

The Planet

In many ways, Saturn is similar to Jupiter, but it is much smaller. It is the second largest planet in our Solar System and it is a gas giant like Jupiter. Under the clouds of methane, hydrogen, and helium there isn’t solid ground. The atmosphere turns into liquid until it becomes a giant ocean of liquid chemicals. 
 
Saturn is the least dense planet in our Solar System. It consists of mostly hydrogen and helium. These gases are the two lightest elements in the universe. Thus Saturn is the lightest planet that we know of. This is why you wouldn’t weigh as much on Saturn as you think you would because of its size.
 
And because Saturn is so light, it does not have as much gravity. It’s believed that if we could place Saturn in water, it would float! This is because the planet is mostly hydrogen and helium, two gases.
 
Saturn is a lightweight planet and it spins very fast. Thus, Saturn is not perfectly round like most of the other planets. Like Jupiter, Saturn is wider in the middle and more narrow near its top and bottom.
 
A year on Saturn lasts 29 Earth years. Like Earth, Saturn has seasons due to its orbit and tilt from one hemisphere to another. Saturn’s seasons can last’s over 7 years. Imagine if that was your summer vacation!

An image of a hot sun over a city.

Summers on Earth are hot and sunny. But on Saturn, it’s cold throughout every season.

The Rings

Saturn is most well-known for its rings. However, it is not the only planet with rings. Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune also have rings. Saturn is a favorite object for many observers. Its beautiful rings are 169,800 miles wide (approx 273,266 km). But Saturn’s rings are amazingly thin, estimated to be less than a kilometer thick. That’s only a little more than half a mile (0.62 miles to be exact)!
 
The rings are split into categories, Ring A, Ring B, Ring C, Ring D, Ring E, Ring F and Ring G, totaling 7 in all. The rings are not solid but rather made up of particles of ice, dust, and rocks. They’re held in place around Saturn by the moons that also orbit this large planet. The gravity of these moons also cause the gaps that we see in between the rings. In 2003 they were at their brightest ever!

An image of the tomb of Galileo, with a statue of him on top.

Statue of Galileo, discoverer of Saturn’s rings

Moons

Saturn has 53 official moons and 9 provisional (unofficial) moons. The most well-known of Saturn’s moons is Titan. It is the second largest moon in the Solar System next to Jupiter’s Ganymede. Titan is larger than the planet Mercury. Some of the other moons are named for other Greek gods and muses. A few: Atlas, Calypso, Dione, Enceladus, Hyperion, Iapetus, Janus, Mimas, Phoebe, and Tethys.

Saturn Mythology

Saturn was the name of the Roman god of agriculture, liberation, and time. He is the son of Uranus and the father of Jupiter. Saturn overthrew his father to become king of the gods. Later he was then overthrown himself by his son Jupiter. 
An image of the Trevi Fountain, which is covered in statues depicting Roman Gods.

Trevi Fountain in Rome, you see many Roman Gods depicted here

Other Great Resources

More Saturn Facts: http://www.kidzone.ws/planets/saturn.htm

Planets for Kids on Saturn: http://www.planetsforkids.org/planet-saturn.html

Saturn 101 by NatGeo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epZdZaEQhS0

 

 

Written by: Monica Siegenthaler