Uranus, named after the the father of the Roman god Saturn, is the seventh planet in the Solar System and third of the gas giants. It is the third largest planet by diameter, yet fourth most massive. It is also known as “ice giant” due to it’s icy mantle which surrounds its rock and iron core.
1. Uranus was officially discovered by Sir William Herschel in 1781. It is too dim to have been seen by the ancients. At first Herschel thought it was a comet, but several years later it was confirmed as a planet.
2. A collision may have caused the unusual tilt of Uranus. The theory is that an Earth-sized planet may have collided with Uranus which forced its axis to drastically shift.
3. Uranus wind speeds can reach up to 900 km per hour. This is roughly 560 miles per hour.
4. The planet’s upper atmosphere is of water, ammonia and methane ice crystals, giving Uranus its distinctive pale blue color.
5. The mass of Uranus is about 14.5 times the mass of Earth, making it the lightest of the four gas giants of the outer solar system.
Uranus is often referred to as the “ice giant”.
6. While it has a hydrogen and helium upper layer like the other gas giants, Uranus also has an icy mantle which surrounds its rock and iron core.
7. It has 27 known moons.
8. Some of it’s notable moons are Oberon, Titania, Miranda, Ariel & Umbriel.
9. The chemical element Uranium, discovered in 1789, was named after the newly discovered planet Uranus.
10. Uranus is the second least dense planet in the solar system, after Saturn.
11. The Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have flown by Uranus.
12. This happened in 1986 and it flew past the planet at a distance of around 81,500 km. This mission returned the very first close-up images of the planet, its ring system and its orbiting moons.
13. Uranus has 13 presently known rings. All except two Uranian are extremely narrow. They are usually a few kilometres wide. It is believed that the rings are probably quite young.
14. The matter within the rings is thought to be parts of a moon or moons that were shattered by high speed impacts with an object such as a comet or asteroid.
15. Uranus’ moons are named after characters created by William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. These include Oberon, Titania and Miranda. All are frozen worlds with dark surfaces. Some are ice and rock mixtures. The most interesting Uranian moon is Miranda; it has ice canyons, terraces, and other strange-looking surface areas.