Uranus was discovered by Sir William Herschel in 1781. William Herschel was a musician who was very interested in astronomy. One night in March 1781, he was studying the constellation of Gemini and he spotted a blue- green dot that was moving very slowly across the sky.
At first he thought he discovered a comet. But professional astronomers measured the distance to the object and decided it was to far away to be a comet. It must be a planet. The new planet, twice as far from the Sun as Saturn.
Uranus's atmosphere is mainly made up of hydrogen and helium gases, with a small amount of methane and other gases. The methane gives Uranus its greenish blue color. This is because methane absorbs some of the sunlight's colors, leaving greenish blue light to reflect back into space. The upper atmosphere of Uranus is cloudy, turbulent, and it is very active. Strong winds blow the greenish-blue gas around the planet. Near the planet's equator, winds have been clocked at speeds of nearly 650 miles. Scientists are not sure what lies below Uranus's thick, cloudy atmosphere. some asronomers that there may be an ocean of water and ammonia. Some scientists think that the atmosphere of Uranus may become heavier and more liquid for twelve thousand miles- but no one knows for sure. Maybe Uranus has no surface at all, maybe it its just a hot, watery atmosphere.
Uranus was the first planet discovered by using a telescope! Uranus is the 3rd largest planet. Did you know that if it was hollow about fifty Earths could fit inside. Now that's a lot! Uranus was named after the Greek god of heaven and it was also named after the ruler of the world.
It takes the Earth one year to circle the sun once, but it takes Uranus 84 years to circle the sun just one time. Uranus is 19 times farther from the sun than the Earth. It is about one and three-quarter billion miles from the sun! It's so far from the Sun that it only recieves 0.3% of sunlight that the Earth does. Uranus is so far out in deep space that it is very difficult to see. To see it you need a small telescope and you need to know where to look. For this reason Uranus, unlike many other planets, wasn't known by ancient astronomers.
Did you know that?...
The strangest thing about Uranus is that it lies on it's side!
The core of Uranus is thought to be as large as Earth!
Uranus has about 11 rings and 17 moons.