In this article, we will explore some of the amazing kid facts about Saturn. The world is full of wonders, if you look at the night sky you will see many stars. You may often marvel at what is beyond the sky. You may already know about Earth and Mars but not the facts about Saturn. Before knowing Saturn, it’s imperative that you have basic knowledge of the planets as a whole.
Before the dawn of the Internet and video games, back in the day, people entertained themselves by gazing at the night sky. This activity is called stargazing. In the past, people connected the stars to form patterns of mythological figures called constellations. However, stargazers noticed something odd – there are stars that trailed their own paths across the night sky.
The ancient Greeks called these oddballs “planets”, which meant wanderers. Fast forward to the future, in 1939, the world came to know about the nine planets starting from the nearest to the sun – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. In 2006, many people were surprised that Pluto is no longer considered a planet, but instead, it was known as a dwarf planet.
If there is one planet you should study more about, it would be Saturn. There are many kid facts about Saturn. But before that, you need to know the characteristics of the planets in our solar system. A planet must orbit the sun, it should be large enough for its gravity to form a spherical shape, and it should have an orbit free of small objects.
Now you’re ready to know some kid facts about Saturn:
What is Saturn?
Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun. It’s considered the second largest planet in the solar system. What makes it distinct are its beautiful rings. In Roman mythology, Saturn is the God of Agriculture, in fact, it’s the root of the English word “Saturday”. The first person to observe Saturn’s rings using a telescope was Galileo in 1610. When viewed through a small telescope, Saturn is surprisingly oblate.
What are the physical characteristics of Saturn?
Saturn is considered as a gas giant. This is because it’s mostly composed of helium and hydrogen. Other kid facts about Saturn include not having a definite surface, but it may have a core and the rotation of the planet causes its shape to be oblate or flattened. Other giant planets that are also oblate include Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. Other kid facts about Saturn is it’s the only planet that is less dense than water – about 30% less. According to kid facts about Earth, Saturn is actually 95 times more than the mass of the Earth.
How about its internal structure?
Saturn is famous as a gas planet but despite that, most of its mass is not in the gas phase. The temperature in Saturn rises steadily to the core. It’s suggested that Saturn’s interior is the same with Jupiter – having a small but rocky core which is enveloped by helium and hydrogen. It also has trace amounts of different volatiles like nitrogen, water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane, and sulfur dioxide.
What is the atmosphere on Saturn?
Other kid facts about Saturn: Saturn’s atmosphere is predominantly hydrogen (about 96%) and helium (about 3%). As mentioned earlier, it has trace amounts of volatiles like nitrogen, water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane, and sulfur dioxide including acetylene, ethane, phosphine, and propane. The wind speed in the upper atmosphere can reach up to 500 meters per second. With heat rising from the core and the wind speed, this causes the planet’s interior yellow and gold bands.
How about Saturn’s rings?
You already know that it was Galileo who first saw the rings of Saturn in 1610 but it was Christiaan Huygens who confirmed that Saturn had a thin and flat ring. Fast forward to the future, astronomers with more advanced telescopes observed that Saturn has many rings made of rock and ice ranging in different sizes. Actually, the largest ring is 7,000 greater than the diameter of Saturn. Scientists believe that the rings are made of debris from comets, shattered moons, and asteroids.
Other kid facts about Saturn: The rings are named alphabetically in the order of discovery. The rings are typically close to each other with the exception of Cassini Division – a gap of about 2,900 miles wide. The main rings are called C, B and A and then followed by the Cassini Division B and A.
What about Saturn’s moons?
There are about 62 moons around Saturn. The largest moon of Saturn is called Titan. It’s a bit larger compared to Mercury. Titan is actually the second largest moon in the solar system next to Jupiter’s Ganymede. Just so you know, Earth’s moon is considered the fifth largest moon in the solar system. Other moons include Pan and Atlas, which look like flying saucers. The Iapetus moon has one side that is dark as coal and the other side is bright as snow. There’s also Enceladus that spews water and other chemicals from its spotted geysers. There are more kid facts about Saturn that you should know about.
How many spacecraft have visited Saturn?
As of date, there are only four spacecraft that have visited Saturn. Three of these were brief. The first was Pioneer 11 in 1979. It flew briefly within 20,000 kilometers of Saturn. The next was Voyager 1 in 1980 followed by Voyager 2 in 1981. It was Cassini in 2004 that orbited Saturn and captured photographs of the planet’s moons and rings.
How long is a day on Saturn?
Determining the rotation of Saturn was challenging because the planet has a flat surface. It’s not like Mercury where you can see how long it would take for a specific crater to rotate back into view. Kid facts about Saturn suggest that astronomers came up with one solution to determine Saturn’s rotational speed, astronomers measured the planet’s magnetic field. Saturn has an average day of 10 hours and 32 minutes.
Do the rings disappear?
Saturn has rings and sometimes, it looks like they are disappearing. It just appears to be vanishing because the axis is titled. From Earth, you can see Saturn changing position as it completes its 30-year journey orbiting the sun. Sometimes, you will see that the rings are fully open. In 2008-2009, the rings seemed to disappear. It will happen again come 2024-2025.
Could there be life on Saturn?
The answer is no; this is because the environment is too hostile to support life. Other kid facts about Saturn- one moon has the possibility of supporting life – the Enceladus. Remember that the Enceladus spews out water and other chemicals through its geysers.
Aside from kid facts about Saturn, it would be beneficial to have Neptune facts for kids.
Kid facts about Neptune:
- It’s the eighth planet from the sun.
- With respect to mass, Neptune is the third largest planet. In terms of diameter, it’s considered the fourth largest planet.
- Neptune facts for kids mentions that the planet is blue in color. That’s why it’s named after the Roman God of the Sea.
- It roughly takes 164.8 years to orbit the sun. Actually, it was on July 11, 2011, that Neptune completed its first full orbit since its discovery in 1846.
- Jean Joseph Le Verrier discovered the planet. Unlike Saturn, which is visible to the naked eye, Neptune is not.
- There was only one spacecraft that flew past the planet – Voyager.
- According to research, the planet has an active climate with large storms sweeping across it.
- The largest storm recorded in 1989 was called the Great Dark Spot, which lasted for 5 years.
Kid facts about Saturn:
- It has 62 moons but Neptune has 14 moons. The upper atmosphere of Neptune is 80% hydrogen and 19% helium. It also has trace amounts of methane.
- The blue shades of the planet are due to methane which absorbs red light from the sun and reflects a blue light back into space.
- The blue planet is 17 times the mass of the Earth. It’s slightly massive compared to its twin– Uranus. Uranus is 15 times the mass of Earth.
- It’s made of two layers – the core and mantle. Neptune’s core is rocky and it’s 1.2 times the mass of the Earth. The mantle, on the other hand, is enormously hot and made of methane, water, and ammonia. Its mantle is 10-15 times the mass of Earth.
- This planet has rings like Saturn but is not as massive. In fact, the rings of Neptune are faint. Scientists believe that it’s made from ice particles and dust with carbon.
- Neptune emits about 2.6 times the amount of light it receives from the sun.
- Like Saturn and Jupiter, Neptune rotates quickly compared to other terrestrial planets like Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Neptune has a 16 hours rotational period which makes it the third planet with the shortest day.
There are many kid facts about Saturn and the whole solar system. Its marvels will never cease to amaze you. It might be confusing at times but it would be best to teach children while they are young.