Uranus: A Brief Overview

Uranus Discovery Of Uranus

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun, and is named after the Greek God of the sky. In Greek Mythology, Uranus was the grandfather of Zeus, otherwise known as Jupiter, and the father of Cronus, otherwise known as Saturn. In regards to its size and mass in regards to the other planets, Uranus has the 4th largest mass and 3rd largest radius of all of the plants in the entire solar system. Its composition is very similar to Neptunes composition, that being comprise bulk chemical compositions which differ from that of the larger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn.

Just like Neptune, scientists will classify Uranus as an ice giant to help distinguish the planet from the other gas giant planets. The planets atmosphere is similar to Jupiter’s and Saturn’s in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium, but it contains more “ices” such as water, ammonia, and methane, along with traces of other hydrocarbons. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the Solar System, with a minimum temperature of −371 °F, and has a complex, layered cloud structure with water thought to make up the lowest clouds and methane the uppermost layer of clouds. The interior of Uranus is mainly composed of ices and rock.

Size15,759 miles
Distance To The Sun1.784 billion miles or 19.8 AU
Length of A Day 17 hours 14 minutes
Length Of A Year84 Earth years
Average Temperature-371°F
Number Of Moons27
Number Of Rings2 sets
Missions To The Planet1 (Voyager 2)
AtmospherePredominantly made up of hydrogen and helium
Size Compared To EarthAbout 4x larger than Earth
Discoverer And Discovery DateDiscovered on March 13, 1781 By Telescope


Uranus has 27 known natural satellites, which are named after characters in the works of Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. The five main satellites are named Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, and Oberon. Of all giants in the solar system, the satellites of Uranus is as massive amongst the giant planets in the solar system. The mass of the 5 major satellites of Uranus combined would be less than half that of Triton, the largest moon of Neptune alone. The largest of Uranus’ satellites, Titania is the eighth-largest moon in the Solar System.


The Uranian rings are composed of extremely dark particles, which vary in size from micrometers to a fraction of a meter. Thirteen distinct rings are presently known, the brightest being the ε ring. All except two rings of Uranus are extremely narrow – they are usually a few kilometres wide. The rings are probably quite young; the dynamics considerations indicate that they did not form with Uranus. The matter in the rings may once have been part of a moon (or moons) that was shattered by high-speed impacts. From numerous pieces of debris that formed as a result of those impacts, only a few particles survived, in stable zones corresponding to the locations of the present rings. Discovery…

Fun Facts

  • Uranus is known as the “sideways planet” because it rotates on its side.
  • William Herschel, who discovered Uranus, originally thought it was either a comet or a star.
  • The original name proposed by Herschel for Uranus was “the Georgium Sidus,” which translates to the Georgian Planet, in honor of King George III of England.
  • The name “Uranus” was first proposed by German astronomer Johann Elert Bode in order for it to be in conformity with the other planetary names – which are from classical mythology.

Check out the Planetary Bodies Category for previous and upcoming articles on the solar system planets.

Sources And Further Reading


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