What Are Some Saturn Facts for Kids?

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Saturn is the fifth-brightest item in the solar system, and unlike most other planets, it is visible to the naked eye. Whereas it takes one year for Earth to complete an orbit around the sun, Saturn moves much more slowly. In fact, it requires more than 29 Earth years for Saturn to make one full rotation around the sun.

Saturn is more impressive than Earth in many ways. For example, while Earth has only one moon, Saturn has more than 150 moons. Saturn also has rings that stretch out tens of thousands of miles away from the planet and are mostly made up of chunks of ice and dust.

Scientists have learned a lot about Saturn because it has been visited four times. The Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and Cassini-Huygens spacecrafts have all sent valuable information about Saturn's atmosphere back to Earth. While there has been some discussion about humans inhabiting Mars, there is less discussion about humans being able to live on Saturn; the planet is extremely cold and has poisonous gas in its atmosphere, making it impossible for a human being to survive there. It also would take at least three years for a spacecraft to arrive at Saturn after leaving Earth.

Saturn is a gas giant and is the second-largest planet in the solar system, after Jupiter. It is the sixth planet from the sun. The planet is named after the Roman god Saturn, the father of Jupiter and the god of agriculture.

As a gas giant, Saturn consists of liquid hydrogen, helium and methane surrounding a small core of rock. Because it is composed of mostly gaseous elements, Saturn is the lightest planet in the solar system, despite its large size.

Saturn is encircled by three main rings, with smaller rings between them; scientists believe the rings are most likely made of ice. Some of the chunks of ice making up Saturn's rings are as large as a house, while others are very tiny. Although the rings stretch hundreds of thousands of miles into space from the planet, they are very thin -- less than half a mile from top to bottom. The Renaissance astronomer Galileo was the first person ever to see Saturn's rings, a feat which was accomplished with the aid of a telescope he invented.

Saturn's largest moon is Titan. It is larger than Earth and is the second-largest moon in the solar system. Titan is the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere.