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The Ringed Planet All of the gas giants have rings, but none are as spectacular as Saturn’s. You can see them clearly as you come closer to the planet. Bits of rock and ice make up the rings that


orbit the planet. Some are as small as grains of dust. Others are as large as boulders. Scientists think they are leſt over pieces of moons. T e moons may have collided with rocks in space. Saturn has plenty of moons leſt . It may have


more than 60. T ey vary in size and shape. Some of them have remarkable features. One has geysers that shoot ice into space. Beneath the rings and moons, Saturn is a lot


like Jupiter. It is a world of wicked winds and banded clouds. Giant hurricanes spin across the planet’s surface. Some grow larger than the U.S. state of Texas. Saturn is also the only planet that could


fl oat. If you could find a container big enough, Saturn would bob on top of the water.


Uranus spins on its side.


Rings of dust, ice, and rocks circle Saturn.


The Sideways Planet Once you move past Saturn, you’ll blast over to Uranus. Uranus is blue, but it doesn’t have water. Its color comes from methane gas in its atmosphere. Uranus is a cold, dark world. Here’s a way to


think of how dark it really is. Imagine that the amount of sunlight that hits Earth is equal to four dollars. Only a penny’s worth of sunlight reaches Uranus. Like Saturn, Uranus has rings. T ese rings


are darker and thinner than Saturn’s—only a few kilometers thick. T is planet also has brightly colored outer rings. T e similarities with Saturn stop here,


though. Uranus is a real oddball in the solar system. It does something strange. It spins on its side. It seems to roll like a ball instead of spinning


like a tilted top, like the other planets do. Scientists think something must have knocked Uranus on its side. One or more large objects may have crashed into the planet long ago. T e impact could have turned the planet sideways.


14 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER


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