Looking at Uranus—the seventh planet in our solar system and also one of the most gaseous—through a powerful telescope, one can’t help but get the feeling as if a very charming and mystical body is sitting in the centre, around which revolves the disciples and the other deities in the form of satellites and rings in the presence of divine aura of the faded clouds. Earlier, known as a planet with bland looks, Uranus later came to be known as a vibrant planet with few bands of the shining yet fainted clouds and moons, along with eleven rings around it. In addition to this, the unusual position of Uranus and also the axis on which it revolves round the sun is inimitable. Thus, all these noticeable things make Uranus quite exclusive; and observing its different positions and its character in the solar system is quite captivating. Read on to know some interesting and amazing facts related to Uranus.
Distance From Sun: 2,870,972,170 km
Distance From Earth: 2581.9×106 km (Minimum), 3157.3×106 km (Maximum)
Mean Radius: 25,362 km
Mean Circumference: 159,354.1 km
Volume: 68,334,355,695,584 km3
Mass: 86,810,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
Density: 1.270 g/cm3
Surface Area: 8,083,079,690 km2
Surface Gravity: 8.87 m/s2
Length of Day: -0.718 Earth days (retrograde)
Length of Year (Orbital Period): 84.016846 Earth years
Number of Moons: 27
Number of Rings: 11
Average Orbit Velocity: 24, 477 km/h
Orbit Inclination: 0.77 degrees
Orbit Circumference: 18,026,802,831 km
Average Temperature: -216°C
Discovered By: William Herschel
Date of Discovery: 13 March 1781
Exciting Facts About Uranus
- Uranus is the first planet to be explored with the help of a telescope.
- Uranus is one of the two massive ice planets located in the outer part of the solar system. Besides this, it is one of the enormous gaseous planets with no solid surface.
- The atmosphere of this planet is mainly made of hydrogen and helium with a small amount of methane and traces of ammonia and water.
- Nearly around 80% of this planet has a comprehensive liquid core, comprising icy matter made of water, ammonia and methane. Sunlight, when goes through the atmosphere of this planet, gets reflected back out by the cloud tops of Uranus, which lie under a layer of methane gas.
- The sun shines directly over the each pole for around a quarter of the complete Uranian year, immersing the other half portion of the planet into a long and dark winter.
- The magnetic field of the planets is mainly in position with the rotation of the planet but, in the case of Uranus, it is different as its magnetic field is overturned. The magnetic axis is slanted about 60 degrees from the axis of rotation of the planet and is balanced from its centre by one-third of the radius. Its magnetic field is perhaps generated by motion at the shallow depths.
- This planet has two sets of rings where, the inner system of total nine rings was explored in 1977, mainly comprising narrow and dark rings. Two more inner rings were discovered by Voyager 2 the spacecraft and also, an outer system of two rings at some distance from the planet were found in 2003, in the images by Hubble Space Telescope. Later on, in 2006, the observations made by Hubble and at the Keck Observatory showed that the outer rings of this planet are of bright colours.
- The rings of Uranus are perpendicular to the orbital path around the Sun due to its unusual orientation. This is the reason that, the outer ten rings are thin, dark and tapered whereas the 11th ring present in the other rings is broad and disperse.
- Uranus has a total number of 27 moons which are named after the characters from the work pieces of Alexander Pope and William Shakespeare. The most unusual looking moon is Miranda, as its complex surface may specify partial melting of the interior part along with icy material peripatetic to the surface. All these moons form three different categories including 11 small and very dark inner moons explored by Voyager 2, the 5 big ones and the newly found ones which are at some distance.
- Miranda, with a diameter of 480 km, is the smallest of the five foremost moons of Uranus. It also has a surface with huge fault canyons which are 12 times shallower than the Grand Canyon.
- Titania is the biggest moon with surface marked with various rifts which depicts the important geologic activity that took place at the time of its origin. It is made up of nearly half rock and half ice.
- Umbriel is the darkest moon with grand craters and a mystifying bright ring on one of its side.
- Ariel is the brightest and the youngest of all the moons of Uranus with a highest density of 1.65 g/cm3 .
- The outermost moon is Oberon, which seems much like the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, and is heavily cratered, showing very few indications of internal activity. Oberon revolves around the planet at around twice the distance of Moon from Earth.
- The planet gets the blue-greenish colour from methane gas present in the atmosphere. It is because methane gas absorbs the red part of the light and results in this colour.
- In December 2007, Uranus reached the equinoctial point, when it was completely illuminated as the Sun passed over the equator of the planet.
- It also has band of clouds which blow around swiftly, just like the other gaseous planets. However, these bands are quite faded.
- Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft which was sent to observe Uranus in 1986. When this spacecraft passed over this planet, the south pole of Uranus pointed directly at the Sun, as Uranus was close to its southern summer solstice. At this time, the southern hemisphere was filled with sunlight where as the northern hemisphere was completely dark, radiating heat.