Uranus


Uranus. Image Credit: Hubble Space Telescope
Uranus: Little is really known about Uranus as it has only been visited by voyager (but orbiters may be on the drawing board) but we do know some things. The composition of Uranus’ atmosphere is mostly methane (which gives it its blue-green color), hydrogen and helium. Deeper down into the planet is these same materials but in the liquid form because it has been compressed by immense atmospheric pressures. Uranus has a very subtle ring system and 27 and counting moons. Although Uranus is similar to Neptune, it has one thing that none of the other planets have: It practically spins on its side. While the other 7 planets (sorry pluto) rotate on an axis that is along the solar plane (plane that all of the planets are more or less on) Uranus appears to rotate on its side as it orbits the Sun. Uranus wasn’t discovered until March 13th 1781 by William Herschel because it is a very hard planet to find. This is because it is very dim and does not “wander” across the sky as quickly as the other inner planets. To find Uranus look to the constellation Pisces next to the Great Square of Pegasus. Look to the part of the constellation where the 2 fish are tied together and refer to your star chart. When you scan the area with binoculars or a finderscope and you find a blue-green star that is not on the chart, you’ve found Uranus! Uranus can be spotted with binoculars as a blue-green star but won’t appear as a disk until you point a moderately large aperture telescope at it. Uranus doesn’t look like much from here but when you see it know that you are looking at one of the most peculiar objects in the solar system!

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