Written and Illustrated by Michelle Li
The Seventh Planet
Did you know that Uranus means “father of Saturn”? In 1781, William Herschel discovered Uranus through his telescope. At first he thought it was a comet. Before Herschel discovered Uranus, people used to think Saturn was the farthest planet, but Uranus is farther.
A Gas Giant
It takes 84 Earth years for Uranus to make one trip around the sun. Uranus is 1.7 billion miles away from the sun. It is a gas giant. Uranus is the third largest planet in the solar system. Jupiter and Saturn are both larger than Uranus. Uranus is an interesting planet.
An Interesting Planet
Did you know that Uranus is tilted on its side? Most planets have their axis tilted up, but Uranus’ axis is tilted sideways. Scientists think that an object may have crashed into Uranus and caused it to be sideways. Since Uranus is sideways, its poles are tilted directly towards the sun or away from the sun. The side that is tilted towards the sun gets 42 years of day while the other side gets 42 years of night. It takes Uranus 17 Earth hours and 14 Earth minutes to rotate one full rotation. When you look at Uranus from a telescope it looks like a smooth blue-green globe. Uranus looks blue-green because its atmosphere contains methane. Methane looks blue-green in the sunlight. Uranus has a very cold atmosphere. The average temperature is -350 degrees Fahrenheit. The diameter of Uranus is 32,000. There is no solid ground on Uranus. It’s surface is actually thick gases and ice. Deep inside the thick gases and ice there is a core that is small and rocky. Uranus has strong winds that reach the speed of 375 miles per hour. Uranus is a strange planet.
The First Mission to Uranus
Did you know that the Voyager 2 was the first space probe that went as far as Uranus? In August 1977, the Voyager 2 went into space to study Jupiter and Saturn. After the scientists finished studying from earth, they wanted to try to send the probe to Uranus. When the Voyager 2 gave scientists the first close up of Uranus, the scientists discovered 11 of Uranus’ rings. The rings of Uranus are mostly made up of fine dust and large boulders of black ice. Scientists are not sure why the boulders of Uranus’ rings are black. Some people think that the boulders are black because they are made of an unknown material
Uranus has 17 moons and maybe more. In 1787, William Herschel discovered two of Uranus’ moons, Titania and Oberon. Ariel and Umbriel were found in 1851, and Miranda was found in 1948. People used to think Miranda was the smallest moon of Uranus but scientists found 10 more moons and they are smaller than Miranda. Those ten moons are believed to be made up of the same materials as Uranus’ rings.
A Strange Moon
Miranda is Uranus’s strangest moon. The landforms on Miranda look jumbled and twisted. There are cracks and cliffs on other moons but the cracks and cliffs on Miranda are all jumbled up like a patchwork quilt. Many scientists think that something crashed into Miranda a long time ago and split it apart. When the parts came back together, they got mixed up.
Finding New Moons
In 1997, astronomers found two new moons orbiting around Uranus. These moons orbit in a very different path from other known moons. They are made up of clumps of ice and rock.
The moons are not circular and are much smaller than other moons. Scientists are looking for answers to why these moons are so different and why Miranda is so strange.