Facts about Uranus
Uranus likes to be a little bit different and show off its awesome blue-green haze. This is something pretty cool to see. This is because it has high levels of methane gas and rolls like a barrel rather than spinning like Earth and the other planets in our Solar System.
Everything you need to know about Uranus
As we said Uranus spins lying on its side, just like a barrel. How weird is that as no other planets do that. Scientists think that maybe it was because of a big collision when it started forming, but no one knows for sure!
- Uranus was the first planet discovered by telescope. Uranus can’t be seen from Earth without a telescope.
- The man himself who discovered this stunning planet was William Herschel in 1781 while he was gazing out into the sky with a telescope. For his awesome work he was given the rather fancy title of Astronomer Royal from George III in 1782. He was obviously impressed!
- Herschel also discovered two of Uranus’ moons with a larger telescope. Clever man clearly!
- William Herschel moved from Germany to England to become a musician. He bought a book on astronomy and there went his musical career and a great astronomer was born.
- It is the seventh planet from the Sun, and there is no way you will be able to see it with your own peepers!
Whoa this is quite something. Uranus takes 84 Earth years to go around the sun, which means that each of its poles is in daylight for 42 years and in darkness for the next 42 years. Imagine living in darkness for 42 years or even in daylight for 42 years? That would be crazy.
- Uranus takes 17.9 hours to turn once on its own axis, which is faster than the Earth, which we know takes 24 hours. This planet is super speedy indeed!
- Uranus’s atmosphere is mostly made up of hydrogen but it also has a lot of gas called methane. Methane absorbs red light and scatters blue light around the place. So this is why we see a blue-green planet as the methane haze hides the planet from us!
Even though we can’t really see underneath the haze, scientists think that under the hydrogen-methane atmosphere is a hot, slushy ocean of water, ammonia and methane thousands of kilometres deep, which is wrapped around a rocky core. They think this ocean could be as hot as 2,760⁰C. Now that would fry us for sure!
Uranus has 27 moons. But the cool thing is that most of them are names after characters in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. The five major ones are Titania, Oberon, Miranda, Ariel and Umbriel. Umbriel isn’t from Shakespeare’s play though, but comes from a poem by Alexander Pope.
Interesting Facts about Uranus
- Uranus was the ancient Greek God of the heavens whose sons were the Giants and Titans.
- Uranus is the smallest of the four ‘giant’ planets, but is still quite a bit larger than the Earth. It has a diameter of 47,150km. The Earth’s diameter is 12,760 kilometres. That’s still a big difference!
- Wow, seriously…Uranus is 2,869 million kilometres from the Sun.
So you think Uranus has rings? Well surprisingly it actually does even though we can’t see them. In 1977 Uranus moved along its way in front of a star. The astronomers that were watching through giant telescopes saw nine rings around the planet. Wow, who would have known? They are really faint though and are very difficult to spot.
- In the 1980s the Voyager spacecraft sent photos back to Earth which showed another two rings. Amazing!
- The Hubble Space telescope found another two very faint rings, which are far from the planet, between 2003 and 2005. So Uranus actually has 13 rings in total.
- Scientists don’t yet understand what causes these rings or exactly what they’re made of. Maybe one day soon we’ll know!
When Uranus was first seen scientists noticed that at some points in Uranus’ orbit it was being pulled further out into space. Wonder where it’s going?
If you had to hurtle off in a rocket to Uranus you’d weigh a bit less on Uranus as there’s less gravity on Earth. If you weighed 32kg on Earth, you’d weigh 28kg on Uranus. Maybe you could sneak a few more chocolates in, but don’t tell your parents!
Even though we know that Uranus likes to be a bit different it is actually very similar to Neptune!
So there is Uranus in all its glory and you should be all clued up for that next test or assignment!