Uranus Facts – The Ultimate Guide to Uranus

Uranus, with a name derived from the father of Greek god Zeus and Roman god Saturn, is the seventh planet in our solar system. This third largest gas giant has an atmosphere that’s mostly made up of hydrogen and helium which makes it difficult to see its surface. We take a look at some interesting Uranus facts and answer all the questions you may have about this fascinating planet. 

Uranus Facts

  • Uranus, the “sideways planet,” is known for its odd rotation on its side.
  • Uranus, the seventh planet in our solar system was discovered by William Herschel on March 13th, 1781.
  • The planet, Uranus is an ice giant and nearly four times the size of Earth.
  • Uranus is such a cool planet because it makes one trip around the Sun every 84 Earth years.
  • Uranus has some of the coldest temperatures known to any planet.
  • Uranus has two sets of rings, a dark set and a light one.
  • Only one spaceship has ever flown past Uranus. 
  • Uranus is a planet with 27 moons, each named after characters from literature.

Uranus Orbit & Rotation

The planet Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun and has a very strange orbit. It takes 80 years for Uranus to orbit around the sun, but it rotates on its axis once every 17 hours. Let’s look at some other interesting Uranus facts about its orbit & rotation.

How Long Does It Take Uranus to Orbit the Sun

It takes Uranus a little more than eighty Earth years to orbit the Sun.

How Far From the Sun Does Uranus Orbit

Uranus orbits the Sun an average of 2.9 billion kilometers away in a nearly circular orbit.

How Long Does It Take For Uranus To Rotate on Its Axis

Uranus rotates about its sideways axis once every 17 hours. Unique among our solar system’s planets, Uranus spins sideways and backward from the norm, possibly from an earlier collision with an Earth-size object.

How Long Is a Year on Uranus

One year on Uranus is 30,688.5 Earth days or slightly more than eighty Earth years.

How Long Is a Day on Uranus 

One day on Uranus is 17 hours long, nearly thirty percent shorter than a day on Earth.

Uranus History

Did you know that Uranus is the only planet in our solar system to not have a name from Greco-Roman mythology? We look at many more things within this section about the history of Uranus. 

How Old Is Uranus

Uranus, like the rest of the planets in our solar system, formed 4.5 billion years ago. Similar to the other ice giant, Neptune, Uranus is thought to have formed closer to the Sun than its current orbit and to have migrated outwards over time.

How Did Uranus Get Its Name

Uranus was originally named after Britain’s monarch, King George III, seventy years after its discovery, but this name was very unpopular outside Britain. Other names that were proposed include Herschel in honor of its discoverer, George Herschel, and Neptune to commemorate the British fleet’s victories over the American’s during the American Revolutionary War. Eventually, it was decided to follow the convention of naming planets after Greek or Roman gods, and Uranus was named for the Greek god of the sky, Ouranos.

Who Discovered Uranus

Uranus, the first planet found using a telescope, was discovered in 1781 by astronomer William Herschel. He originally thought it to be either a star or a comet, but Johann Elert Bode’s observations helped form a scientific consensus that this was a newly discovered planet within the next two years. William Herschel’s home at 19 New King Street, Bath, Somerset, England, eventually became the home of the Herschel Museum of Astronomy in the discoverer’s honor.

How Many Spacecrafts Have Visited Uranus

NASA’s Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have visited Uranus. It did so during its Grand Tour of the Solar System prior to flying by Neptune. Voyager 2 flew as close as 81,500 km to Uranus’s cloud tops on 24 January 1986. It investigated Uranus’s five known moons and found ten new ones. While examining the nine known rings of Uranus’s system, it found two previously unknown. Prior to Voyager 2’s flight, there was discussion of sending Voyager 1 on a flyby of Uranus, but this was scrapped when Saturn’s moon, Titan, was considered a higher priority.

Atmospheric Structure and Dynamics of Uranus

The planet Uranus intrigues astronomers. It has an extreme axial tilt of 98 degrees and is tilted on its side, leading to a strange mix of seasons. The atmosphere appears to have more methane ice than hydrogen or helium gas and the upper atmosphere contains ammonia crystals that form at high altitudes in the air. Let’s look at even more interesting atmospheric structure and dynamics of Uranus within this section. 

Does Uranus Have Rings

Uranus has several sets of rings, none of which are likely to have formed at the same time as the planet. The inner system’s nine rings are narrow and dark grey; these seem to be formed by small rocky material. Of the middle two rings, the more inner of the two is most similar to other rings in our solar system, formed from reddish dust. The outermost ring is blue and possibly formed from tiny particles of water ice, as it scatters blue light.

How Many Rings Does Uranus Have

Uranus has a total of thirteen rings. From the innermost to outermost, their names are: Zeta, 6, 5, 4, Alpha, Beta, Eta, Gamma, Delta, Lambda, Epsilon, Nu, and Mu.

What Are Uranus’s Rings Made Out Of

Uranus’s seven inner rings consist primarily of tiny particles of rocky debris; they are narrow and dark grey. Nu, the second most outer ring, is made of the dusty reddish material seen in most other planets’ ring systems. The outermost ring, Mu, is thought to be made up of tiny particles of water ice, likely from Mab, the small natural satellite that shares its orbit.

What Color Is Uranus Rings

Uranus’s rings come in many colors. The inner nine are dark grey. Then, Lambda is dusty red like most other rings in the solar system. The outermost, Mu, is blue from its constituent water ice particles.

Does Uranus Have Moons

Uranus, like the other giant planets in our solar system, has many natural satellites.

How Many Moons Does Uranus Have

Uranus has a total of twenty-seven known moons, though only five were known until Voyager 2’s flyby in 1986 discovered another ten. The inner moons seem to be a roughly half and half mixture of water ice and rock. The remainder is unknown but is most probably asteroids captured by Uranus’s gravity.

What Are the Names of Uranus Moons

Uranus’s moons are named mostly after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. Ariel, Umbriel, and Belinda come from Pope’s poem “The Rape of the Lock”. Titania, Oberon, and Puck are from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Miranda, Caliban, Sycorax, Prospero, Setebos, Stephano, Trinculo, Franscisco, and Ferdinand come from characters in “The Tempest”. Also from Shakespeare are: Cordelia (“King Lear”), Ophelia (“Hamlet”), Bianca (“Taming of the Shrew”), Cressida (“Troilus and Cressida”), Desdemona (“Othello”), Juliet and Mab (“Romeo and Juliet”), Portia (“The Merchant of Venice”), Rosalind (“As You Like It”), Margaret (“Much Ado About Nothing”), Perdita (“The Winter’s Tale”), and Cupid (“Timon of Athens”).

What Are the Names of Uranus’s Biggest Moons

Uranus’s five largest moons, ranging in diameter from 472 km to 1578 km, are: Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, and Oberon. These are all relatively dark moons thought to have formed either from Uranus’s original accretion disc or a large impact suffered soon after Uranus’s formation.

What Is the Dark Spot on Uranus

Uranus’s dark spot, roughly two-thirds the size of the United States, is most likely caused by a thinning of the methane layer of its atmosphere due to solar heating.

How Big Is Uranus

Uranus is approximately the same size as Neptune and four times the size of the Earth.

What Is the Diameter of Uranus

Uranus is 51,264 km across, just over four times Earth’s 12,742 km diameter.

What Is Uranus Made of

Uranus, like the other ice giant in our solar system, Neptune, is made primarily from icy materials (water, methane, ammonia) in a hot dense fluid swirling about a rocky core. At its center, this fluid is pressure heated to 4,982 degrees Celsius.

What Is Uranus Atmosphere Made of

The atmosphere on Uranus is primarily helium and hydrogen, though there are small amounts of methane, water, and ammonia present. Methane clouds give Uranus its bluish hue.

How Much Gravity Is on Uranus

Gravity on Uranus is 8.69 m/s2, just under eighty-nine percent of that on Earth.

What Is the Temperature Range on Uranus

Uranus’s average temperature is a chilly -213 degrees Celsius. The temperature in its clouds ranges from -193C down to -223C for a range of 30 degrees Celsius. Near its core, however, temperatures can reach up to 4,982C. Taking this into account, the total temperature range on Uranus is 5,205C.

What Is the Weather Like on Uranus

The frigid winds of Uranus can reach speeds up to 360 mph, the fastest wind speed found on any planet in our solar system. The average temperature is chilly -353 degrees F, and some clouds circle at over 300 mph!

Does Uranus Rain Diamonds

Deep within Neptune and Uranus, it rains diamonds or so astronomers have suspected for nearly 40 years. The outer planets of our Solar System are hard to study, however. Only a single space mission has flown by them to reveal some secrets; the theory that the rain with diamond droplets remains only an unproven hypothesis until now.

Is There Water On Uranus

The planet Uranus is composed of water, methane, and ammonia fluids above a small rocky center. Its atmosphere consists of hydrogen and helium like Jupiter and Saturn but it also has its own unique trait – the presence of methane gas which can lead to some interesting “chemical reactions.

What Color Is Uranus

The stunning blue-green color of Uranus is the result of methane gas absorbing red light. Methane absorbs all colors except blue and green, so only those two are left to reflect off its atmosphere with a distinctive tint that can be seen from Earth. The cold temperature drags down any leftover heat into deep space, leaving an unusually clear atmospheric layer for astronomers on Earth to take in and enjoy close-up views through telescopes.

Can We Live on Uranus

Scientists are still scratching their heads about what would be the best conditions for life on Uranus. There’s no process inside Uranus, like volcanism here on earth that could give energy to any organisms living there and as such scientists speculate it may need a vastly different form of life than anything we know from Earth in order to survive

Can You Land on Uranus

The surface of Uranus is not like what you would think it to be. The planet, as an ice giant, does not have a true surface and any spacecraft attempting to land on the atmosphere wouldn’t fare so well due to extreme pressure levels that could destroy metal crafts such as space shuttles.

Comparing Uranus and Distances From Other Planets 

Have you ever wondered how far Uranus is from Earth? You are probably shocked to find out that it’s over 1 billion miles away. Let’s compare Uranuse’s size and distance from other planets in this section. 

How Far Is Uranus From Earth

The distance between Earth and Uranus changes daily because the solar system is in constant motion. The closest they get to each other is 1.6 billion miles (2.6 billion kilometers). At their farthest, they are separated by 3 times that amount at 4 billion km or 2-3 times more than Pluto’s average orbital radius of 613 million km from the sun.

How Big Is Uranus Compared to Earth

With a radius of 15,759.2 miles (25,362 kilometers), Uranus is bigger than Earth by four times!

How Long Does It Take to Get to Uranus

The Voyager 2 spacecraft was launched on August 20, 1977, and it reached Uranus on January 24, 1986. So, the total travel time to reach Uranus took almost nine and a half years.

How Many Earths Can Fit In Uranus

The planet Uranus is so big, 63 Earths could fit inside and 4 can line up across its diameter.

How Far Is Uranus From the Sun

The planet Uranus is about 19.8 astronomical units away from the Sun, which means that it’s an average of 1.8 billion miles (2.9 billion kilometers) away!