Lesson Plan - Get It!
Do you know what Saturn's rings are made of? You might be surprised when you find out!
Check out this Kids Learning Tube video about Saturn called Planet Songs for Kids/Solar System Songs for Children/Saturn Song for Kids:
Saturn, named after Saturnus, the Roman god of agriculture, is an incredible sight to see!
It is so beautiful! Like Jupiter, Saturn is a gas giant, but it is a little smaller than Jupiter, making it the second-biggest planet in our solar system. It is made of mostly hydrogen with a little bit of helium, and most likely has a rock core even bigger than Earth. Saturn’s many clouds make it look striped and colorful.
Saturn is very different from Earth. It is almost 100 times the size of Earth! It is very cold, with surface temperatures of about -270 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a little over half the density of water, which means it would float if Earth had an ocean big enough! Saturn also rotates much more quickly than Earth. One day on Saturn is 10-and-one-half hours on Earth. Because Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun, it is much farther than Earth and it orbits the sun once every thirty years! That means one year on Saturn is thirty Earth years!
Saturn is orbited by many moons. The biggest one is called Titan. Titan's atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, and its hemispheres are uneven, which leads us to believe that Titan may experience seasons, just like Earth! Other large moons include Mimas, Lapetus, Eceladus, and Rhea.
Saturn’s iconic feature is its rings. They are beautiful and colorful, stretching ciompletely around the planet. Though they may look thick to us, they are actually only 1 kilometer! That is tiny compared to Saturn's massive size. Saturn was the first planet known to have rings.
What are these rings really made of, though? They are actually made of ice! It is not a solid band of ice, but rather tiny little water ice particles that circle the planet. Technically, they orbit Saturn just like our moon orbits Earth!
Scientists aren't exactly sure where these rings came from. Some people think that Saturn had an icy moon that was hit and shattered by something, and the tiny particles just kept orbiting Saturn like the moon did before it was destroyed. Another theory says that a big moon fell into Saturn’s core but left tiny pieces behind.
Regardless of their origin, Saturn and its rings remain one of the most beautiful parts of our solar system. If you look at a picture of Saturn's rings, you may notice a big gap. This is called Cassini's Division. Let's watch this video called All About Saturn for Children: Astronomy and Space for Kids from FreeSchool:
Many spacecraft have been to Saturn. The first one was called Pioneer 11. It took this picture all the way back in 1979:
Image by NASA, via Wikimedia Commons and cropped, is in the public domain.
Look at this size comparison of Earth to Saturn! Saturn is 120,000 km, and over 9 Earths would fit across Saturn's diameter:
Continue on to the Got It? section to get your knowledge together and play a game!