Posted by: cochinblogger | March 23, 2011

Eight-Year-Old Counts Saturn’s Moons

My 8-year-old son drew me aside excitedly and said he wanted to show me something. I said, “Sure!” He opened a book on space I’d got him called Do Stars Have Points? (Do Stars Have Points?). He opened the book to page 34 and put his finger on a sentence that read: “Saturn has 18 moons.”

I shrugged my shoulders, and looked at him so as to say, “So?”

“Wait, Appa! Wait!” The poor chap is so used to adults having more important things to do than listen to his story.

I waited.

He then opened yet another book I’d given the boys, called The Solar System by Kris Hirschmann (The Solar System). He turned to page 17 and showed me an entry in a table that stated Saturn has 31 moons.

My older boy had been following the proceedings with interest. He produced yet another book from the bookshelf, called Saturn: More than 150 Facts by Biman Basu. On page 39 it was stated that Saturn has 31 moons. (By the way, all three books are published by Scholastic, a reputed publisher.)

Surveying the evidence, he proclaimed that Saturn must have 31 moons, not 18. His younger brother and I, convinced by the weight of the evidence, agreed with him.

In this way, the boys learned an important lesson: Do not take authority figures on trust. Check for yourself.

Today I looked up Wikipedia, only to find it says Saturn has 62 moons.

What’s going on? 🙂



  1. very nice- descriptive of …..wonderful curiosity of children and the chaotic mess of our adult world!

  2. Take a look at the publishing dates. Its quite possible that the first book is quite old. Older books means older data. And possibly wrong data.

    • A good idea.

      A field guide to the Solar System called “Solar System” by Jay M. Pasachoff, Houghto Mifflin, 2006, states that Saturn has at least two dozen moons. “The Usborne Book of Astronomy and Space,” 2009, states that Saturn has at least 61 moons.

      So … it’s still a mystery. 🙂

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