We all know that Uranus is the third largest planet in solar system and the fourth massive planet. It looks majestic in its beautiful greenish – blue color. Not much is known about Uranus but it has many unique properties. Let’s explore some interesting facts about Uranus.
Uranus is named after Ouranos who is the Greek God of sky and is considered to be the earliest lords of heavens. It was named by German astronomer Johann Bode.
Source: space.com, image: wikimedia.org
2. Blue color of Uranus
The beautiful blue color of Uranus is due to the large amount of methane gas present in Uranus’s atmosphere. Methane has a unique property of absorbing red light and scattering away blue light. That’s why Uranus looks greenish – blue.
3. Inside Uranus
Uranus is hidden under the blue cover of hydrogen and methane gas. But scientists have guessed that miles inside is a rocky core which is covered by ocean of water, methane and ammonia.
Source: sciencekids.co.nz, image: wikimedia.org
4. Uranus rolls on its side
While other planets are a bit tilted on their axis, Uranus has a massive axial tilt of 98 degrees. Hence it looks as if it has tipped over and is rolling on its side. While revolving around the Sun, Uranus is described as ‘rolling around the Sun on its side’. Guess who drank and tripped over?
Source: space-facts.com, image: wikimedia.org
5. Rotation and Revolution
6. One day at pole
Uranus has a unique tilt. So, one of its pole always faces towards the Sun while the other pole faces away from it. Due to this one day at a pole in Uranus lasts for 42 years while at the same time the opposite pole experiences dark night for 42 years.
7. Seasons on Uranus
Just like Earth, Uranus has four seasons. But these seasons are far different from what we experience on Earth. One season on Uranus lasts for 21 Earth years. Due to Uranus’s unusual tilt one pole sees the sun and experiences summer for 21 long years. But the opposite pole doesn’t see the sun and experiences cold, dark winter for 21 long years.
Source: earthsky.org, image: wikimedia.org
8. First discovered by a telescope
With naked eyes you can see up to planet Saturn. Uranus is not visible from Earth by naked eye and hence it was the first planet to be discovered through telescope. Uranus was discovered by William Herschel in 1781.
Source: scpace-facts.com, image: wikimedia.org
9. Ice Giant
Uranus is nicknamed as the “ice giant”. Uranus gained this name as it is chiefly composed of heavier volatile substance like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. These volatile substances along with water vapor create an icy cloud over Uranus due to which Uranus appears to have the pale blue color.
10. Rings of Uranus
Just like Saturn, Uranus too has rings. These rings were discovered in the year 1977. 13 rings of Uranus had been discovered till date. These rings are made from moons which were shattered due to impact with comets or asteroids.
Source: theplanets.org, image: wikimedia.org
11. Coldest planet
Uranus is the coldest planet in the solar system because the minimum temperature on this planet reaches – 224 degree Celsius. Uranus gives off less heat than the heat it absorbs from the Sun. But it is still a mystery why Uranus is so cold.
12. Only one spacecraft has approached Uranus
In January 1986 NASA’s Voyager 2 came at a distance of 81,000 km to the surface of Uranus. The near the surface pictures of Uranus that we have today are due to the photos taken by this spacecraft. No other spacecraft had ever come close to Uranus.
Source: universetoday.com, image: wikimedia.org
13. Winds on Uranus has the speed of over 500 miles per hour
Massive storms occur in the atmosphere of Uranus. Some storms on Uranus can occur as large as the size of a continent. The winds in these storms can exceed the speed of 500 miles per hour.
14. Moons of Uranus
There are 27 moons of Uranus. Among them 5 moons are considerably larger in size. These 5 moons are Miranda, Umbriel, Ariel, Oberon and Titania. All these names are taken from characters of Shakespeare and Alexander Pope’s plays and poems.