Day 291. Fun Fact Friday: Uranus

Uranus is the 7th planet from our sun and is 1.8 billion miles away from it. It was the first planet to be found by telescope, although at the time, the man who discovered it, William Herschel, thought it was a comet or star. 

An ice giant, 80% or more of the “planet’s mass is made up of a hot dense fluid of “icy” materials.” (NASA) Those icy materials are water, methane, and ammonia. The other 20% of the planet is the core, and it’s rocky. It’s atmosphere is made of helium, hydrogen, and a bit of methane. Because of that bit of methane, Uranus has it’s blue-green color (methane absorbs the red part of light, so when light bounces off of Uranus’ surface, only the blue and green light escapes the atmosphere). 

Uranus has 27 moons. They are named after William Shakespeare’s works or Alexander Pope’s. The planet has two sets of rings, an inner set and an outer set. The inner set is dark while the outer set is quite colorful. As of 2005, there have been 13 rings discovered.

Uranus spins “backwards” (east to west), which is called a retrograde rotation. This is what Venus also does. But unlike Venus, Uranus spins on its side. This means it spins horizontally. This could have resulted by a collision with a planet-sized body when Uranus was still young. No other planet shares that trait with Uranus. A day on Uranus is 17 Earth hours and a year is 84 Earth years.

I got this information from NASA’s Solar System Exploration site.

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