God of the heavens or sky.
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.
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.
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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