Uranus orbits the Sun on its side. Its south pole is pointed in the direction of Earth. The angle of the tilt of the axis of Uranus is ninety seven degrees. This is probably because of an object the dimensions of Earth smashing into Uranus throughout its formation billions of years back.
Following Saturn, a space-craft would have to journey 1,500,000,000 kms to reach Uranus. This means the planet is nearly twice the distance from the Sun than Saturn is.
Uranus' pale blue colour is due to the methane in its atmosphere that filters out red light.
Voyager 2 was the initial man-made object to reach Uranus. It had earlier visited Saturn and Jupiter and had taken thrilling close-up images of those 2 planets and their moons. But, when the very first pictures of Uranus from Voyager 2 were received in the world in January 1986, experts were disappointed to see that it was a pale blue, featureless planet. Six years of waiting and all they noticed were images like the one on the left.
Such as the other Gas Giants (Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune), Uranus has rings of ice and tiny rock particles. However, these rings are extremely faint, they are only noticeable for special scientific equipment.
If we were able to see Uranus' moons orbiting the planet, they might go over and under the planet such as lights on a ferris wheel.
A day on Uranus is several hours smaller than a day on Earth, the planet requires 17 hours to spin on its axis. But, a year on Uranus is much lengthier than a year on Earth. Actually, it requires 84 years on Earth for Uranus to finish one orbit around the Sun.
Uranus provides 27 moons (so far found) orbiting the planet. 10 of these were found in 1986 by the Voyager 2 mission.
Due to Uranus' unique tilt, a night at one of its poles continues for 21 Earth years, throughout which it will receive no light or heat at all from the Sun.
Uranus was the initial planet in the Solar System to be found. The planets known of at the period of the discovery of Uranus were Venus, Mercury, Mars, Earth, Saturn and Jupiter.
Ancient astronomers managed to see these objects without binoculars or telescopes and named them following their Gods. Uranus was discovered later using scientific instruments, in 1781, however was still named following an ancient god (in mythology, Uranus was the ruler of the Gods)
Virtually all of the moons of Uranus are named following characters in plays written by Shakespeare. The moons of every other planet within the Solar System are named following characters in Roman and Greek mythology.
The 2 moons of Uranus that are not named following Shakespearean characters (Umbriel and Arlel) are named after characters in a book known as the Rape of the Lock written by Alexander Pope.
Uranus, located about 1.86 billion miles far from Earth, generally presents a bland and featureless surface to astronomers, but, one of the storms noticed at 2.2 microns, a wavelength that senses clouds just under the tropopause (the lower boundary of the stratosphere) accounted for almost 30 per cent of all light reflected by the rest of the planet.
The Hubble telescope analyzed the storms on 24 October and observed several giant storms that extended across around 5500 miles, greater than three-quarters the diameter of Earth, at different altitudes.