URANUS


  • NAME
    God of the heavens or sky.

  • ABOUT URANUS
    Uranus is the seventh planet and third 'Gas Giant'. It's
    composition is much like the other Gas Giants. A most
    interesting feature is that it is tilted roughly 90 degrees.
    This means the planet is rolling along in it's orbit. The poles
    of the planet experience long periods of sunlight and
    darkness, about 21 years. When Voyager arrived it found
    a very bland colored planet. It took image processing to
    bring out much detail in it's clouds.

  • DISCOVERY DATE
    1781. William Herschel discovered it while sweeping the skies
    with his home-made telescope. He was one of the greatest
    observers and telescope makers in the history of astronomy.

  • MOONS
    Twenty-seven as of 7/23/06. Five were discovered from earth, the other ten were
    discovered by Voyager. Miranda seems to be a very interesting
    moon. It's peculiar because it's surface seems to display just
    about every surface-feature known in the Solar System.
    It's possible the moon has broken-up and slowly the pieces
    (by gravity and collisions) were put back together explaining
    it's varied surface appearance.

    Like the other Gas Giants, Uranus too has rings. They
    were discovered in 1977. Observers were waiting
    for an occultation (star passing behind Uranus)
    when they noticed the star dimmed unexpectedly on both
    sides of the planet. The explanation seemed to be rings.
    Images of the rings were subsequently obtained from
    earth. Voyager confirmed and photographed the rings.

  • OBSERVING - NAKED EYE
    Extremely difficult for most. Under very dark skies it
    can be seen with the naked eye if one knows where to look.

  • OBSERVING - TELESCOPE
    Difficult to see much. A small telescope plainly shows it
    as a small greenish disk. Detecting markings is very difficult.
    Occasionally there are reports of bands or spots but I
    have not seen such detail. Another thing to look for in
    a moderate sized telescope is the brighter moons. They
    are dim specks very close to Uranus.


Uranus showing it's true appearance on the left and a computer enhanced image on the right. Looking at the left image, you can see the difficulty in seeing any details through a telescope.


A computer simulation of Uranus as seen from it's moon Miranda.
It's dark rings can be faintly seen. Uranus, in Miranda's sky would
cover about 23 degrees (horizon to overhead= 90 degrees).


A close-up of the moon, Miranda, and it's varied surface appearance of craters, grooves, and ridges.


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