This seventh planet from the Sun
The first planet found with the aid of a telescope, Uranus was discovered in 1781 by astronomer William Herschel. The seventh planet from the Sun is so distant that it takes 84 years to complete one orbit. Like Venus, Uranus rotates east to west. Uranus’s rotation axis is tilted almost parallel to its orbital plane, so Uranus appears to be rotating on its side. This situation may be the result of a collision with a planet-sized body early in the planet’s history, which apparently radically changed Uranus’s rotation. Because of Uranus’s unusual orientation, the planet experiences extreme variations in sunlight during each 20-year-long season. Voyager 2, the only spacecraft to visit Uranus, imaged a blandlooking sphere in 1986. When Voyager flew by, the south pole of Uranus pointed almost directly at the Sun because Uranus was near its southern summer solstice, with the southern hemisphere bathed in continuous sunlight and the northern hemisphere radiating heat into the blackness of space. Uranus reached equinox in December 2007, when it was fully illuminated as the Sun passed over the planet’s equator. By 2028, the north pole will point directly at the Sun, a reversal of the situation when Voyager flew by. Equinox also brings ring plane crossing, when Uranus’ rings appear to move more and more edge-on as seen from Earth.
While magnetic fields are typically in alignment with a planet’s rotation, Uranus’ magnetic field is tipped over: the magnetic axis is tilted nearly 60 degrees from the planet’s axis of rotation, and is also offset from the center of the planet by one-third of the planet’s radius. The magnetic fields of both Uranus and Neptune are very irregular. Uranus has two sets of rings. The inner system of nine rings, discovered in 1977, consists mostly of narrow, dark rings. Voyager found two additional inner rings. An outer system of two more distant rings was discovered in Hubble Space Telescope images in 2003. In 2006, Hubble and Keck observations showed that the outer rings are brightly colored. Uranus has 27 known moons, named for characters from the works of William Shakespeare or Alexander Pope. Miranda is the strangest-looking Uranian moon: its complex surface may indicate partial melting of the interior, with icy material drifting to the surface.
On Earth, we have the North Pole and the South Pole. But everything is topsy-turvy in Uranus. Its poles are on its sides and it orbits the sun on its side. The strange way that it spins can mean nights on some parts of Uranus last more than forty years! Scientists think a planet as big as Earth may have crashed into Uranus at some point, tipping it onto its side. There’s another fun fact about Uranus it’s the only planet named after a Greek god instead of a Roman god. Uranus was the Greek god of the sky and the husband of Earth
Fast facts -
The age of Uranus is nearly the same as the sun, 4.5 billion years
Uranus has more than 20 moons that all have been named
Uranus was the first planet discovered by telescope
Uranus was originally named “George’s Star”
There’s a moon named “Cupid” that orbits Uranus