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15 Amazing Saturn Facts for Kids (2024 Updated!)

With its huge rings visible from Earth, Saturn is one of the coolest planets (literally, it’s very cold!) in the night sky. The gas giant is the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest in our solar system, and is sometimes called The Jewel of The Solar System.

Amazing Saturn Facts for Kids

While Saturn is so huge that it could fit about 764 Earths inside it, it also has a very low density, making it the lightest planet in the solar system. In fact, it weighs light enough to float on an enormous body of water!

Read on to learn more such cool facts about our beloved Ringed Planet! 

When was Saturn discovered?

Saturn was born roughy 4.5 billion years ago when our solar system was still a baby, and has been observed by humans since ancient times since it is visible to the naked eye.

Beautiful Saturn Planet Image

The Ringed Planet was first spotted and observed by Galileo Galilei, who thought its rings were “arms”, followed by Christiaan Huygens who concluded that Saturn’s “arms” were actually its ring system with his much more powerful telescope. He also discovered the planet’s largest moon Titan. Later, Giovanni Domenico Cassini recorded four other moons: Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys and Dione.

How did we explore Saturn?

In modern times, four robotic spacecraft have visited Saturn, each yielding various findings, but it was the 2004 Cassini-Huygens space probe which was the most ground-breaking. What makes this mission so special? You might wonder.  

Night Sky with Stars

The Cassini mission descended into Saturn’s gassy surface while the Huygen probe landed on Saturn’s moon Titan. In its whopping 13 year long mission, we made many discoveries including Saturn’s hexagonal storm, potential life-sustaining moons, and the existence of water on Titan. Super cool, right?

NASA’s Dragonfly mission to Titan is all set to launch in 2027. The rotorcraft will fly around Titan, studying its surface and looking for signs of life.

What is Saturn’s surface made of?

Imagine a shimmering sphere with clouds in hues of yellow, brown and gold swirling around it. Very pretty, don’t you think? Saturn’s beautiful colour is a result of the ammonia crystals present in its atmosphere. 

Speaking of Saturn’s atmosphere, did you know that the planet is a gas giant? It is mostly made up of hydrogen and helium (yes, the same gas which makes our balloons float and voice sound funny). 

This means that Saturn does not have a solid surface like Earth does. So, if you were to try and step onto Saturn, you would fall right through it! Although, scientists believe that deep, deep down at its centre lies a core made of water, ice and rocky material. 

Why are Saturn’s moons unique?

Because of its rough conditions, Saturn cannot support life, but some of its moons might. As of 2023, Saturn has 146 moons in its orbit, out of which 63 have names. Most of Saturn’s moons are named after the Titans of Greek mythology. 

Saturn’s moons come in all shapes and sizes, each one special in its own way. Titan is larger than the planet Mercury! It has clouds, rain, lakes, rivers and seas of liquid hydrocarbon. On the other hand, Enceladus is frozen over and is only 284 miles wide. 

It would seem like Saturn’s moons and rings have nothing to do with each other, but did you know that scientists think Saturn’s moons are very important to its ring system?

What makes Saturn’s rings so beautiful?

Saturn’s rings are to it what peanut butter is to jelly. Even though it is now known that Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune have rings too, Saturn has the biggest, brightest rings in the solar system. In fact, they are visible from Earth with a telescope!

Beautiful Saturn Rings

How Saturn got its rings still remains unsolved. It is thought that the rings are billions of shattered bits and shrapnel of comets, asteroids, and moons which were torn apart by Saturn’s gravity. These shrapnel could be as small as dust particles to as big as tall buildings!

The ring system is has 7 groups of rings which are separated by gaps called divisions. The rings circle at very high speeds around Saturn. But how do they stay on track without scattering? The answer lies in the smallest of Saturn’s moons known as “shepherd moons”. Shepherd moons orbit between the rings and use their gravity to pull the rings together and keep them intact. 

10 Fun Facts About Saturn

1. Saturn gets its name from a God.

Saturn is named after the Roman god of time, wealth and agriculture. Its astronomical symbol (♄) is thought to be a scythe or a sickle, both of which are agricultural tools.

2. Saturn’s rings might soon be lost.

In the spirit of all good things must come to an end, researchers from NASA have revealed that Saturn’s rings might vanish one day as the planet’s gravity pulls in the matter surrounding it. But that might take at least a hundred million years, so don’t you worry!

3. Saturn’s “ring rain” can fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in 30 minutes

Scientists have confirmed that Saturn’s gravitational pull forces the rings surrounding it into itself. When these particles reach the planet’s atmosphere, they fall down in a dusty, icy shower. This phenomenon is called “ring rain”. NASA has reported that this rain is draining enormous amounts of liquid matter enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in just half an hour!

4. Saturn has a hexagonal storm.

Saturn With its Hexagonal storm

There is a storm on Saturn’s north pole which is almost a perfect hexagon! But wait, there’s more, this storm is so huge that two Earths can fit inside it!

5. Saturn’s rings are huge disks.

While the size of Saturn’s rings span as wide as four and a half Earths, they are only 30 feet in height!

6. It takes sunlight 80 minutes to reach Saturn.

While it takes only 8 minutes for sunlight to reach the Earth, because Saturn is 9.5 astronomical units away from the Sun (that’s 886 million miles!).

7. Saturdays are named after Saturn

Saturday is the only day of the weeks which shares its name with a planet. Now you know who to thank when the best day of the week comes!

8. Spooky sounds have been heard on Saturn

The Cassini spacecraft has recorded radio waves from Saturn, which were then converted into audio recordings. Eerie howls, high pitched whistles and blood-curdling sounds could be heard from these recordings. This planet sure keeps getting stranger and stranger!

9. Season of spring on Saturn

Saturn and Sun

Spring arrives on Saturn at every equinox. Equinox is the phenomenon when the Sun’s position is directly above the equator. Spring on Saturn is very different from spring on Earth. For starters, there definitely aren’t any cherry blossoms on Saturn! But during this season, the ring system’s shadow falls in a beautiful mosaic pattern on Saturn’s surface!

10. Saturn’s ultraviolet Aurora Borealis

You might have seen or heard of the stunning Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights which can be seen from Norway. Saturn has its very own Aurora Borealis which are caused by a strong wind from the Sun which sweeps over the planet. But Saturn’s Aurora can only be seen in ultraviolet light, which is invisible on Earth’s surface. 

Conclusion

Well, that definitely was interesting, wasn’t it? If you get a chance to look at Saturn through a telescope, remember that you are looking at all of this magic! Happy exploring, you space cadet!