Portal:Uranus

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Uranus

A photo of Uranus taken by Voyager 2.

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun; it is the third largest and fourth most massive planet in the solar system. Uranus was the first planet discovered in modern times. Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognised as a planet by ancient observers due to its dimness. Sir William Herschel announced its discovery on March 13, 1781, expanding the known boundaries of the solar system. Uranus' atmosphere, although similar to Jupiter and Saturn in being composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, contains a higher proportion of "ices" such as water, ammonia and methane, along with the usual traces of hydrocarbons. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system, with a minimum temperature of 49 K, and has a complex layered cloud structure in which water is thought to make up the lowest clouds, while methane makes up the uppermost layer of clouds. In 1986, images from the Voyager 2 space probe showed Uranus as a virtually featureless planet in visible light without the cloud bands or storms associated with the other giants. The wind speeds on Uranus can reach 250 m/s (560 mph).

More about...Uranus: its history, rings, atmosphere, climate, moons, and its exploration


Selected article

Umbriel as seen by Voyager 2 in 1986
Umbriel /ˈʌmbriəl/ is a moon of Uranus discovered on October 24, 1851, by William Lassell. It was discovered at the same time as Ariel and named after a character in Alexander Pope's poem The Rape of the Lock. Umbriel consists mainly of ice with a substantial fraction of rock, and may be differentiated into a rocky core and an icy mantle. The surface is the darkest among Uranian moons, and appears to have been shaped primarily by impacts. However, the presence of canyons suggests early endogenic processes. Covered by numerous impact craters reaching in diameter 210 km, Umbriel is the second most heavily cratered satellite of Uranus after Oberon. The most prominent surface feature is a ring of bright material on the floor of Wunda crater. This moon, like all moons of Uranus, probably formed from an accretion disk that surrounded the planet just after its formation.

Selected biography

William Lassell
Born in Bolton, he made his fortune as a beer brewer, which enabled him to indulge his interest in astronomy. He built an observatory near Liverpool with a 24-inch (610 mm) reflector telescope. In 1846 Lassell discovered Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, just 17 days after the discovery of Neptune itself by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle. In 1848 he independently co-discovered Hyperion, a moon of Saturn. In 1851 he discovered Ariel and Umbriel, two new moons of Uranus.

Topics

Uranus Atmosphere ˑ Climate ˑ Exploration (Voyager 2) ˑ Rings

Moons (Portia ˑ Puck ˑ Miranda ˑ Ariel ˑ Umbriel ˑ Titania ˑ Oberon ˑ Caliban ˑ Sycorax)

Astronomers: William Herschel ˑ William Lassell ˑ Gerard Kuiper ˑ James L. Elliot

See Also: Formation and evolution of the Solar System ˑ Gas Giant ˑ Nebular hypothesis

Bold articles are featured.
Italicized articles are on dwarf planets or major moons.


Selected picture

Image of Uranus and Ariel
Credit: Hubble Space Telescope

A Hubble Space Telescope image showing Ariel in transit across Uranus, taken on July 26, 2006. Due to the planet's extreme axial tilt--carried through in the tilt of its satellites's orbits--transits are only possible near the equinoxes. Taken in the near-infrared, atmospheric banding and the planet's oblateness are readily apparent. Courtesy of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

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