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  • Oct 26, 2014
  • Updated: 3:54am

Saturn

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 November, 2008, 12:00am
 

Saturn is the second largest planet in our solar system. It is the sixth planet away from the sun. It has beautiful rings

Gas giant

Saturn is one of the four gas giants - the others are Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune - in our solar system. This means its surface is made mostly of gas. The gas is mostly hydrogen. Saturn has a solid ball of rock at its centre. It's covered by metal hydrogen.

Big winds

The wind on Saturn can reach 1,800 kilometres per hour. The highest wind speed recorded on Earth is 372kph.

The years drag

Saturn is a long way from the Sun. It takes much longer to go around the sun than Earth. In fact, one Saturn year is 29.5 Earth years. But days are much faster. A day on Saturn only lasts 10 hours. This is because Saturn spins more quickly than Earth.

Rings of ice

Saturn is most famous for its beautiful rings. We can see the planet without a telescope. But, we can not see the rings without a telescope. The rings are made mostly of chunks of ice. Some of those pieces of ice are as big as a minibus. Others are as small as a pea.

A planet, a god and Saturday

Saturn gets its name from the Roman god of farming. He also gives his name to Saturday. Saturday is the only day of the week that keeps its Roman name.

Planet in pigtails

The rings around Saturn are very thin. Seen from the side, Saturn's rings would disappear. But when viewed from the right angle we can see bands in the rings. There are gaps between the bands. The gaps are caused by the many moons that orbit Saturn. One of the bands is braided like a pigtail.

Light as a cloud

Although Saturn is very big, it is very light. That is because it is mostly gas. In theory, if you put Saturn into water, it would float. But it would be very hard to send a space ship to land on Saturn. It would be like trying to land on a cloud.

Many moons

There are at least 60 moons around Saturn. The biggest is Titan. The smallest one with a name is Pan.

Earth visitors

Quite a few space ships have visited. Pioneer 11 was the first in 1979. Then came Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Cassini, named after one of the giant's rings, visited in 2004.

Saturn's major moons

See if you can find the name of Saturn moons

Pan

Daphnis

Atlas

Prometheus

Pandora

Epimetheus

Janus

Mimas

Anthe

Pallene

Enceladus

Tethys

Telesto

Calypso

Dione

Helene

Rhea

Titan

Hyperion

Phoebe

Lapetus

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