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Monday, July 20, 2009


Hanging like a giant cue ball in space, Uranus has hidden its secrets in frozen gases. The icy planet Uranus is a smaller version of Jupiter and not the small rocky bodies like Earth. It have faint rings and a number of moons. Uranus takes some 84 years to orbit the sun. It rotates on its side and so half the time one pole is toward the sun and then the other making each of the four seasons last about 20 years. The faint bluish color of the planet is because the methane gas in the atmosphere absorbs red light and reflects blue light.
On March 13, 1781, an English astronomer named William Herschel discovered the planet but thought it might have been a comet. More observations and calculations by Herschel and others confirmed that it was indeed a planet. Since it was the first new planet found, Herschel had the honor of naming it, so, Herschel's Planet became Georgium Sidus (George's Star) after King George III of England.
Knighted for his many astronomical contributions,
Sir William Herschel was born Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in Hanover, Germany on November 15, 1738. Due to poor health he moved to England in his teens where he changed his name to William. He was an accomplished musician as well as an astronomer. His sister, Caroline, faithfully helped record his nightly observations. See more about Women in Astronomy here.
After the astronomer's death the planet was changed to Uranus as suggested by German astronomer Johann Bode. He thought that since Saturn was Jupiter's father then the next outward planet should be called Saturn's father, Uranus. Uranus is the only planet called by a Greek name rather than a Roman name, however, most of the moons of the various planets are named from Greek mythology. See below for
Planet Myths and Lore.
New Moon for UranusObservations of Uranus taken in Chile in August, 2002, with the 4-meter Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory Blanco telescope have revealed a probable new moon for Uranus. The object is likely 7 to 19 kilometers across and would be the 16th moon orbiting Uranus. Five moons were known before the
Voyager 2 Mission which found 10 more totaling 15. All of the planets' natural satellites seem to be about 50% water ice, 30% rock, and 20% carbon and nitrogen materials.


Balanced Eco-system

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