|Saturn is the second of the outer planets. It is also the
second largest planet in our solar system. Because it is so big, people
can see it without a telescope. The ancient Greeks and Romans saw it and
named it Saturn. In 1610, Galileo discovered it had "lumps" on each side
when he looked at it through his telescope. In 1655, another scientist
Huygens, made a better telescope than Galileo had. He discovered
Saturn had rings!|
Saturn is made mostly of hydrogen and helium. On Earth these are usually gases. In fact, helium is the gas used to blow up balloons that float. On Saturn, hydrogen and helium are liquids! Saturn has weather and storms. Scientists think these are mostly wind storms. The storm is the bright yellow and blue patches in the middle of Saturn. Saturn is yellow, because there is a lot of sulphur in its atmosphere.
(Courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute and the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy under contract to NASA.)
Saturn is so big, has rings and so many moons that it called a "system". This picture shows Saturn and 6 of its 18 moons! The rings are made up pieces of rocks and ice. These pieces can be as small as a pebble or as big as a building. The rings get their pretty colors because the sun shines on them from far away. Sometimes after it rains on Earth, we see a rainbow. This is because there are many tiny drops of water in the air. These drops are too small to fall as rain. The sun shines on the tiny drops and reflects off making a rainbow. Saturn's rings are made of dust and ice pieces. The sun reflects off these and makes rainbow colors.
Saturn spins very quickly on its axis. One day on Saturn is only 10 hours long. A year on Saturn is very long. It is 29 1/2 Earth years long. This means you would be 30 years old on Earth and 1 year old on Saturn. That makes me almost 1 1/2 years old on Saturn!