From Sun, Uranus is the 7th planet and is the 3rd gas giant to live in our Solar System. This planet is pretty unusual. Some say that the planet is not visible to naked eye but it actually is. The planet is so far from Earth that it appears as a star because of its dimness. There is another thing that makes people think of it as a star – ‘its extremely slow orbital speed’! Let us learn 25 interesting Uranus facts and find out what makes this planet so interesting.
Interesting Uranus Facts: 1- 10
1. Uranus gets its name from Ouranos – a Greek sky deity. Among lords of heaven, Ouranus was the earliest of lords.
2. The planet was accidentally discovered in 1781 by Sir William Herschel – a British astronomer. He was actually in the process of observing stars that were 10 times dimmer than those that were bright and easily visible to naked eye. Herschel found Uranus and thought it to be a star and considered it to be unusual. One year later it was discovered that the unusual star discovered by Herschel actually followed a planetary orbit.
3. Uranus had several names proposed for it. One of them was Minerva (Roman god of Wisdom). The other was Hypercronius (means above Saturn) and the third one was Herschel. Herschel wanted to flatter England’s King George III and offered the name ‘Georgium Sidus’ which in simple English means ‘The Georgian Planet’. None of the proposed names were adopted and later it was Johann Bode, a German Astronomer who proposed the current name of the planet.
4. This planet has an unusual blue-green color. This color comes from methane which is present in abundance in hydrogen-helium atmosphere of the planet.
5. Uranus is often referred to as ice giant. Simple explanation for this name is that 80% of Uranus’ mass is made of a fluid mix of ammonia ice, methane ice and water ice.
6. Hydrogen gives the maximum volume to the planet’s atmosphere and makes up 82.5% of the total mass. Helium takes up 15.2% and methane takes up 2.3%.
7. As far as the planet’s mass is considered, 25% is taken up by rocks, 5-15% is taken up by helium and hydrogen and 60-70% is taken by ice.
8. The mantle of Uranus is made of methane ice, water ice and ammonia ice. The core is made of magnesium silicate and iron.
9. This planet is pretty unusual in the sense that its tilt is extremely unusual. It is so much titled that the planet actually revolves around the sun on its side. Put in simpler words, the planet’s axis points almost directly to the sun. Scientists say that this unusual tilt is because in earlier days of the planet (just after its formation), the planet collided with another planet-sized object.
10. Uranus’ unusual tilt is actually responsible for extreme seasons found on the planet. How extreme is it? The planet rotates or completes one spin in 17 hours and 14 minutes and completes one revolution around the sun in 84 Earth years. Uranus follows almost a circular orbit. This means that the planet maintains almost equal distance from Sun always. Because of the whopping 82 degrees tilt axis of the planet, it experiences seasons that are 20-year-long with sun shining directly on each pole for 20 years.