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There’s a lot more to Saturn’s rings than just looking awesome! Find out why!

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It's a beautiful, clear night outside, and clear nights are a great time to look up at the stars. And right now, we're looking at a bright spot in the sky that looks like a star, but it's not a star at all. It's a planet, the planet Saturn. Wow!

I can tell it's Saturn, because of those rings around the middle. Our telescope isn't strong enough to let us see Saturn very closely, but scientist who study space, called astronomers, have tools that they can use to take some really awesome pictures of this planet. Like, this one. Nice, right, and big.

Saturn is much bigger than Earth. How much bigger? Well if Saturn were hollow in the middle, like an enormous ball, you'd be able to fit more than 700 Earths inside it.

Saturn is one of the eight planets in our solar system. Counting outward from the Sun, it's number 6. It's one of the gas giants, a huge planet made mostly of gas.

And, like all of the planets, Saturn moves around the Sun in a path that's kind of like an oval. This path is called an orbit, but not all orbits go around the Sun. Things can orbit planets, too, including Earth, like our very own moon. The one you might say goodnight to. It travels in an orbit around the Earth. But, check this out! Saturn has 62 moons! Each one takes its own path, its own orbit, around the planet.

And, you know what else moves in an orbit around Saturn? Those awesome rings. Let's look at Saturn's rings a little more closely. Scientist think that there are 7 major rings. Each one is named after a letter of the alphabet, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The rings may look solid, kind of like a hula hoop, but each one is actually made of lots of different pieces of rock and ice. Some of these pieces are small as a speck of dust, and some are as big as houses and even small mountains.

And when we see a picture of Saturn, the rings look like they're standing still, but they're not. They're definitely on the move. Each of the pieces that makes up the rings moves around Saturn in an orbit.

So, how did the rings get there? Well, no one is totally sure, but astronomers have some good ideas. One idea is that the rings might have to do with Saturn's moons. Since Saturn is so big and has so many moons, some scientists think that maybe, a long time ago, it had even more, and it's possible that some of these moons broke apart, maybe because they were hit by other objects flying by like asteroids or comets. And then, after those big collisions, all of that dust and rock and ice that was left behind stayed in orbit around Saturn, and became its famous rings.

But, Saturn's rings are always changing. Since the chunks of rock and ice are moving as they orbit Saturn, they sometimes smash into each other, and break apart. That means there's still lots to see, and lots to learn about them.

Thanks to Ms. King's class at Truman Elementary in La Quinta, California for asking this stellar question, and thank you for joining us on SciShow Kids. Do you have a question about space or animals or anything else? Get help from a grownup and let us know in the comments below, or send us an email at and we'll see you next time!