Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune also have rings. But Saturn's rings are brighter than those of the other planets. Saturn is surrounded by thousands of thin, flat rings. The rings are made up of billions of pieces of ice, rock and dust. Each piece is like a tiny mirror that shines because it bounces back the Sun's light. The first astronomer to see Saturn’s rings thought that the planet had handles. Only after few more years, they started treating those rings as rings.
Our view of Saturn keeps changing. For half of its travels around the Sun, the top of Saturn is pointing toward us. We see Saturn's rings from above. For the other half of its journey, the top of Saturn is pointing away from us. We see the rings from below. When Saturn is tilted sideways, the rings almost disappear. Its takes almost thirty earth years for Saturn to orbit the Sun Once. Because of this, our view of the rings around Saturn is always changing.
Uranus is the only planet that does not spin like a top. Uranus is tilted on its side. It rolls around like a barrel, not a top. For half its orbit, Uranus's North Pole points toward the Sun and the South Pole points away. For the rest of the time, the South Pole points
toward the Sun and the North Pole points away. Each half of Uranus is light for forty-two years and dark for forty-two years.
Winds blow around Neptune about three times faster than the strongest hurricanes on earth. An especially fierce, violent storm was discovered in 1989 and named the Great Dark Spot. But by 1991, it had mysteriously vanished. Since then, a similar dark spot has been discovered in Neptune's northern hemisphere. Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, is the coldest known object in the solar system.
Pluto is no longer considered a planet. In 2006, astronomers decided that Pluto was a dwarf planet, not a true planet, because of its size and place in the solar system. Pluto is far, far smaller than any of the planets — less than one-fifth the size of Earth. It is also at the outer edge of the solar system — almost forty times farther away from the Sun than Earth is. There are five dwarf planets in our solar system.
There are about 400 known plants outside our Solar System. And every year astronomers
keep finding more. They call these planets extra solar planets. Extra solar planets orbit distant stars. With potentially hundreds of billions of planets in space, the future is exciting indeed! Most of the extra solar planets found so far are gas giants like Jupiter.