How to Describe Saturn

By Drew Lichtenstein
Saturn is a fascinating planet, with several different ways to describe it. Images

Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, and is the second largest planet in the solar system. Unlike Earth, Saturn is a gas giant, which means that it is predominantly made out of hydrogen and helium, with a small, rocky inner core. Some distinguishing characteristics of Saturn include its ubiquitous rings, immense size, and the fact that it has the most moons of any planet in the solar system. The plethora of information available on Saturn means that there are several different ways to describe it when introducing the planet to a class.

Discussion Points

Show images of Saturn's rings. When most people think of Saturn, they first think of its rings. Thanks to the Cassini-Huygens space probe, there are several good closeup images of Saturn's rings; thus, you can prepare a Powerpoint presentation that shows slides of the rings from afar, and then shows the closeups of how the rings are made primarily out of ice.

Prepare a handout on the moons, comparing the size and attributes of some of Saturn's larger moons. Saturn has more than 60 moons, with the most important one being Titan, is the second largest moon in the solar system. Titan is significant because it has an atmosphere, and many scientists speculate that there may be simple life on the surface.

Discuss Saturn's history. Saturn was well-known to ancient observers, so there is a wealth of information on what scholars thought of the planet. Pertinent talking points can include discussion of its namesake (the Roman god of agriculture) and also the work of Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens in observing the rings and discovering Titan.

About the Author

Drew Lichtenstein started writing in 2008. His articles have appeared in the collegiate newspaper "The Red and Black." He holds a Master of Arts in comparative literature from the University of Georgia.