When seen through a telescope, Saturn is one of the most beautiful sights in the night sky.
It looks like a big ball inside of rings.

Saturn is a very large gas planet which spins very rapidly on its axis. It spins so fast that it
flattens out the top and the bottom of the planet. The fast spin also causes Saturn to bulge
at its equator. Saturn's atmosphere has winds which can blow at over 1800 kilometres per
hour! The white spots on Saturn are believed to be powerful storms. Saturn is surrounded
by over 1000 rings made of ice and dust. Some of the rings are very thin and some are very
thick. The size of the particles in the rings range from pebble-size to house-size. Scientists
believe that the particles came from the destruction of moons circling the planet. As
comets and meteorites smashed the moons, Saturn's gravitational pull shaped the
particles into rings. Saturn has at least 52 moons. Some of these moons orbit the planet
within the rings, creating gaps in the rings.

Saturn Facts:
  • If you could find a bathtub big enough, Saturn would float in it.
  • Some of Saturn's moons control the width of its rings. These are known as
    shepherd moons.
  • Although it is made mostly of gases, scientists believe Saturn has a small rocky
  • Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun, and is a giant gas giant.
  • Saturn has 34 named satellites.

What is its surface like?
Saturn is mostly gas and liquid. Saturn may have a small core of rock and ice. The
atmosphere has bands, but they are not as colourful as Jupiter's.
What are its rings like?

Saturn's rings are composed of rock and ice particles ranging in size from specks of dust
to the size of a house. Some particles might even be a few kilometres wide! The particles
in the rings are actually spaced far apart. It would be easy to pass through the rings.

What are its moons like?

Saturn has 56 moons, and many of them have names. The size of Saturn's moons and the
size of the chunks of ice in its rings are similar, which means that we can never know the
exact number of moons.  New moons are still being discovered. Saturn's biggest moon is
named Titan, and is large enough to be a planet in its own right!

Shepherd moons
There are small potato-shaped moons in or near Saturn's rings. They control the ring
particles with their gravity. That is why they are called shepherd moons. Six of them are
known, and there may be more.

Mimas is mostly made of water ice with a small amount of rock. It has a large crater for its
size called Herschel. It is 130 km across, making it about a third as big as Mimas. The
crater makes Mimas look like the Death Star from the Star Wars movies.

Enceladus is made of ice. It is denser than other icy moons. That suggests it also has
some rock inside. It has smooth areas, cracks and some craters. The smooth areas are
younger. Craters there have been erased within the past 100 million years. Water vapour
was found over a smooth area around the south pole. The cracks and grooves suggest
tectonics similar to Ganymede's. Some ridges similar to Europa's ridges were also found.
Those suggest oceans like Europa's under some areas of Enceladus. Tidal forces from
Dione could be powering some of this activity. It is because Enceladus orbits Saturn twice
for every orbit by Dione. This makes Dione and Saturn tug on Enceladus. This is similar to
how Europa and Ganymede's tidal forces on Io power Io's volcanoes.

Tethys is an icy moon that has many craters, including the huge Odysseus. It is 400 km
across, 1/5th as big as Tethys is. The crater had become flattened because the icy
material does not hold its shape as well as rock would. There is also a large valley called
Ithaca Chasma. It is 3 to 5 km deep, 100 km wide and 2000 km long, three fourth of the
way around Tethys.

There are two moons, Telesto and Calypso, which share Tethys' orbit. Telesto is ahead of
Tethys and Calypso is behind it.

Dione is made of lots of ice and maybe some rock in the core. It has lots of craters. The
craters are flattened because the ice does not hold their shape as well as rock. One side
has bright white lines that are fractures. Two moons share Dione's orbit. Helene is ahead
of Dione and Polydeuces is behind it.

Rhea is an icy moon similar to Dione with some rock in the core. It has many craters
mostly on one side, and the other side has some bright white icy areas.

Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second largest one in the solar system. It is the
only moon in the Solar System that has a thick atmosphere. The atmosphere is made of
nitrogen, argon, methane and various organic compounds. Its surface has light and dark
areas and few craters. However, the Cassini probe discovered a huge crater 440 km wide.

Hyperion is made of water ice with a little rock. It is potato shaped. It wobbles instead of
rotating in the same way other moons do.

Lapetus is almost entirely ice. It has a light area called Roncevaux Terra that has craters.
There is a big dark area called Cassini Regio that covers half of Iapetus. The dark material
may be from Phoebe. Some of it is on the bottom of craters. Some huge craters and a
ridge had been discovered in Cassini Regio by the Cassini probe. The ridge stretches
1300 km along the equator. It is up to 20 km high, which is over 2.26 times higher than
Mount Everest.[More huge craters were found in Roncevaux Terra when Cassini went by
Iapetus again.

Phoebe is made of ice and rock. It looks dark because it has a layer of dark material on the
outside. It also looks rough.

Other moons
There are two groups of small outer moons. Phoebe is part of the second outermost group.

One day on Saturn is about 10 hours and 39 minutes in Earth time.  One year on Saturn is
about 29.46 Earth years long. That is 10,760 Earth days!

What is it made of?
Saturn has a rocky core. Around the core, there is ice. Above the ice is liquid metallic
hydrogen. On top of that is gaseous hydrogen. There is no place where the hydrogen
suddenly turns from a gas to a liquid.  The gaseous hydrogen makes up most of Saturn's
atmosphere. Other gases there include helium and some other gases. There may be rain
made of helium falling through the hydrogen. There is also ammonia on the surface.

How much would Saturn's gravity pull on me?
If you were floating close to the cloud tops of Saturn, it would pull you down with a force
only a little stronger than the force of Earth's gravity. The effects of Saturn's large radius and
its mass almost cancel each other out, making the force only a little bigger. So, if you
weighed 100 lbs. on Earth, you would weigh 106 lbs. on Saturn.

Who is it named after?
Saturn is named after the Roman god of agriculture. He taught people how to farm. He
was the father of Jupiter. Saturday is named after him.

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Our Solar System
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Our Solar System
This comprehensive book
contains information on all
major planets, major star
constellations, space
exploration and our solar
system. Included are fact
sheets, fast facts,
wordsearches, crossword
puzzles, Q's & A's, Student
Activity Sheets,
Teacher/parent resources
and tips, lesson plans and
crafts and activities.  
entire book 208 pages
The Chinese lunar calendar
dates back to the second
millennium BC. The Chinese
calendar is cyclical. Each
cycle is made up of 12 years;
after the 12th year, the cycle
is repeated.  
This book
contains comprehensive
teacher/parent resources,
lesson plans and activities
relating both to the Chinese
Zodiac and to the Chinese
New Year. A Fun interactive
learning experience for Gr
K-5  with a particular focus on
adjectives,  characteristics
and traits.  
Preview the entire
book here