Uranus is a gas giant, place at the seventh furthest away planet from the sun and the second last planet in our solar system. All of the planets are named after a Roman god, excluding Uranus. Uranus was instead named after the Greek god of the sky, who apparently was Coronus’ father, meaning Ouranos (that was his name) was Zeus’ grandfather.
The reason Ouranos isn’t the same word is that we have altered it to be the Latin version that we use.
Our Solar System's Planet: Uranus
Uranus has a radius of 25 362 kilometres, making it’s diameter 50 724 kilometres wide. Its diameter is 4 times larger than that of Earth, allowing it to fit 63 Earth-sized planets inside of it. To put things in comparison, if Uranus was the size of a Softball, then Earth would be about the size of a nickel.
It orbits approximately 19.2 astronomical units away from the sun. How far away is this? This means Uranus is over 19 times further away from the sun than Earth, as astronomical units are the distance between the Earth and the Sun (almost 150 million kilometres).
It doesn’t always stay at 19.2 astronomical units away, as it is its average. It ranges from 20.1 astronomical units to 18.3 astronomical units (AU), which just so happens to be the biggest range of AU between any other planet in our solar system.
Due to its distance away from the sun, it is extraordinarily cold, with an upper atmosphere temperature of -220 degrees Celsius or -364 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to it reaching up to -224 degree celsius, it is on average the coldest planet in our solar system.
Because it is so much further out from the sun than Earth, it has to go a much further distance around the sun, to stay in its orbit pattern. This means that to complete one orbit around the sun Uranus must travel up to 3 billion kilometres (1.86 billion miles). Therefore one year on Uranus is the equivalent to 84 years here.
When Uranus was first discovered, astronomers attempted to predict where Uranus would go in its orbit. They were unable to do so as there was another gravitational force that played a part in where it would orbit around the sun.
This is how we discovered Neptune. While searching for this mysterious gravitational force, they worked out where it should be, and they were right.
There is yet another mysterious gravitational force that is impacting the orbit of our planets, theories suggest that it is some sort of ninth planet that is orbiting out and in of our solar system.
The majority of planets rotate like a spin top, circling itself again and again. Instead, Uranus is like a ball, rolling across a desktop, as compared to the other planets it appears to be on its side.
Uranus’ axis is 97 degrees, a very on its side tilt, when compared to most other planets, for example, Earth’s tilt is only 23.5 degrees. This is how we experience seasons.
Due to this factor, during both solstices, Uranus faces either complete sunlight or complete darkness all of the time. Only the equator experiences day and night, but the sun only just appears above the horizon and does not get very high in the sky.
Each side of Uranus is either experiencing 42 years of complete darkness or 42 years of constant sunlight.
Although a Uranian year is slow, their days go by quicker than days go by here on Earth. one Uranian day is equivalent to 17 hours and 14 minutes.
Similar to the other large planets in our solar system, Uranus has rings as well. Unlike Saturns huge rings, Uranus’ is only a few kilometres wide, making them look very thin. Its rings were made when a few moons collided together around the planet, with regular collisions it has become a very thin set of rings.