With a diameter about four times the earth, like the other large planets, Uranus is made largely of hydrogen and Helium but it also has many more icy compounds made of water, ammonia, and many more. Because of this Uranus is sometimes referred to as an “ICE giant”.
All throughout history people have looked up at the sky and wondered about distant worlds. In modern times, astrology has been replaced by astronomy, as scientists seek to learn facts about the Universe. The planets that orbit the Sun in our solar system have been the subjects of many scientific studies.
Along with the other planets, scientists have sought to learn about Uranus. Uranus facts teach us more about our solar system. Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun, with only Neptune being farther away from the Sun than Uranus.
Here are 27 Interesting Facts about Uranus
27 Interesting Facts about Uranus
1. The Name Uranus is Over 2,500 Years Old
Nearly all the planets in the solar system get their names from Roman Mythology. The names we use for the planets are the names that the Romans used for the Gods they worshipped. The Romans had adopted their Gods from Greek Mythology.
The first of our surprising Uranus facts is that the planet is the only one that kept its name from Greek mythology. Uranus comes from Ouranos, the Greek God of the sky. When the Romans adopted Uranus as the God of the sky, his name was Caelus.
The spelling of Uranus was changed to reflect Latin spelling conventions, but the first of our Uranus facts is that the name of the planet comes from Greek Mythology.
In Greek Mythology, Uranus was Father Sky and was married to Gaia, Mother Earth. Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the first generation of Gods, the Titans. The Olympians, including Zeus, Apollo, and other Gods, replaced the Titans.
The Roman names of these Olympian Gods were used to name most of the planets, including Jupiter, Mars, Neptune and Venus.
The second of our surprising Uranus facts is that although Uranus was discovered later, the name Uranus is from an earlier God than the Gods whose names were used for most of the other planets.
2. The Name Uranus Comes from the Same Root Word as Urine
People often joke about the pronunciation of Uranus because it sounds like a part of the body. There are actually two ways to pronounce the word. Scientists prefer to put stress on the first syllable. The pronunciation that sounds like a part of the body puts stress on the second syllable. Both are accepted pronunciations.
Another surprising fact, and one of our first funny Uranus facts, is that the word urine actually comes from the same root word as Uranus. The origin of Uranus and urine is a very old root word that was used in Proto-Indo-European.
Proto-Indo-European is an ancient language that predated Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin. Many words that form the basis of words we use today were used in Proto-Indo-European. These words are called root words.
The root word of Uranus and urine in Proto-Indo-European was pronounced something like ouers and meant to moisten or to drip. The word evolved to mean to rain in Sanskrit and Greek.
It makes sense that the name of the God of the sky would be connected with a word meaning to rain. It also makes sense that the word urine would be connected to a word meaning to drip. The meanings are closely related today, as kids who are potty-training may joke that they are making it rain.
It’s certainly one of the funny and surprising Uranus facts that the word Uranus and the word urine are related by their root words. This is one of the more educational Uranus facts, especially when compared to the fact about the pronunciation of the word, which doesn’t teach us much about history or language.
3. Uranus Was One of the Last Planets to Be Found in the 1700’s
As people looked up at the sky throughout history, many people saw the pale blue dot of Uranus. There was speculation as to what the blue dot actually was. Early Greek astronomers labeled it as a star, and this belief was carried through history for over a thousand years.
When telescopes were invented, and the ability to see objects in the night sky improved, more Uranus facts began to emerge.
4. William Herschel Discovered Uranus in 1781
It was only in 1781 that Uranus fun facts began to receive widespread recognition. Sir William Herschel was watching Uranus through a telescope when he speculated that it was a comet and not a star.
Herschel presented his findings to the Royal Society. The Royal Society was a preeminent group of scientists from England and other parts of the world. In the meetings of the Royal Society, scientists would present their findings and conclusions from their experiments and observations.
Herschel presented the first Uranus facts to the Royal Society. He noted that the size of Uranus changed when he adjusted his telescope, whereas the stars did not change size because they are much farther away.
Herschel also noted that Uranus did not have the same type of light as stars, instead of appearing hazy in his telescope.
5. William Herschel First Named the Planet Uranus as Georgium Sidus
Other astronomers across Europe, including Johann Elert Bode in Germany, observed Uranus and suggested that it was a planet and not a star. Bode took measurements and established some of the first Uranus planet facts about the orbit of Uranus. Seeing that there was a stable orbit and no tail, such as those found on a comet, most concluded that it was a planet.
In 1783, Herschel acknowledged to the Royal Society that it was a planet and was given the privilege of naming the new planet.
Herschel chose the odd name Georgium Sidus in honor of England’s King George III who had given Herschel a salary for discovering the planet.
6. The Planet Uranus Was Almost Named Neptune
It’s another of the surprising and fun Uranus facts that the planet was almost named Neptune. People outside of Britain did not like the name Georgium Sidus and a Swedish astronomer proposed the name, Neptune.
Bode suggested that the name of the planet should be Uranus. Saturn was the Roman name of the Titan God who was the father of Jupiter. Bode suggested the name based on one of the Uranus fun facts from Greek mythology.
Uranus was the father of Saturn, or Cronus in Greek Mythology, and using this name would keep the same naming convention used to name Saturn.
In other words, Saturn was the father of Jupiter, and Uranus was his grandfather. Why Bode didn’t suggest Caelus as the name of the planet, is unknown.
Bode’s name caught on and even inspired the naming of a newly discovered element, uranium. The last of our planet facts relating to the name of Uranus is that it wasn’t until 1850 that the name Georgium Sidus was removed from reference books in Britain.
7. Uranus Receives 1/400th the Energy that Earth Receives from the Sun
The first of our astronomical facts is that Uranus is almost 3 billion kilometers, or more than 1.8 billion miles, from the Sun. This is roughly 20 times the distance that the Earth is from the Sun.
Uranus receives less intense heat and light from the Sun because it is so far away. Uranus receives roughly 1/400th of the intensity of energy from the Sun than the Earth does.
Because Uranus is farther away from the Sun than Earth, it takes much longer for it to complete an orbit around the Sun. On Earth, we count a year every time we orbit the Sun. It takes Uranus 84 years to complete its orbit around the Sun.
8. Scientists Speculate Uranus May Have an Ocean of Liquid Diamond
When we think about planets, we often assume that they are like the Earth, with a mass of land and an atmosphere. Some planets are indeed like this and are considered rocky planets. Uranus is one of the Gas Giants, a group of planets that includes Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Uranus is made mostly of gas and ice. Because they have a lot of ice – and to further distinguish the planets based on composition – Uranus and Neptune are also called the Ice Giants, while Jupiter and Saturn are only ever referred to as the Gas Giants.
It’s one of the surprisingly cold Uranus facts that the ice on Uranus is not mostly made up of water like it is here on Earth. The ice on Uranus is frozen water, ammonia, and methane.
There is a small rocky core at the heart of Uranus. However, the largest part of the planet is a large layer of liquid and ice with an atmosphere of gas surrounding it.
When you consider the pronunciation of Uranus that people joke about, it might seem rather an apt Uranus fact that there is a lot of methane on Uranus.
Uranus is big – the circumference of Uranus is 99,786 miles or 160,590 kilometers. That’s over four times the size of Earth. One of the impressive Uranus facts is that Uranus is the third-largest planet in the solar system. Uranus also has a large mass, though its mass is less than the other Gas Giants.
Some recent studies have revealed one of the most interesting facts about Uranus: because of the size of Uranus and the molecular composition of methane, it’s speculated that the very bottom of the layer of ice on Uranus is not actually ice, but diamonds.
The methane molecules break down under the extreme pressure of the liquid and ice, releasing carbon atoms that form diamonds. There may even be a sea of liquid diamonds with diamond icebergs at the base of the liquid and ice layer on Uranus.
9. Brrrr … Uranus is over 350 Degrees Below Zero
We’ve established the Uranus facts that the planet is a large collection of gas and ice and has a small rocky core. Even though it is mostly ice, and Uranus is far away from the Sun, Uranus is a lot colder than we might expect it to be. In fact, it’s colder than Neptune, which is similar in composition and further away from the Sun.
One of the surprising facts is that Uranus is the coldest planet, with the lowest recorded temperature in the solar system. The temperature of Uranus is over 350 degrees Fahrenheit below zero or over 220 degrees Celsius below zero!
The most elusive of Uranus interesting facts is just why the temperature of the planet is so low. Some theories have suggested there was an impact with another object in our solar system that knocked away some material, and that caused a lot of the stored heat energy to escape from the planet.
Other scientists have proposed that there is something in the composition of the layers of Uranus that prevents heat energy from escaping.
10. Uranus Has 27 Moons and 11 Rings
It may be cold, and very far from the Sun, but it’s not alone! Uranus has 27 moons orbiting it. Voyager 2 was a spacecraft that revealed many of the Uranus fun facts that we know today. Voyager 2 flew by Uranus, performed measurements, and took photographs of the planet in 1986.
It’s surprising that many Interesting facts about Uranus for kids were only discovered so recently. It reminds us that while modern telescopes are amazing, Uranus is very far away. Voyager 2 discovered 10 new moons of Uranus that astronomers had not previously known about.
Astronomers knew that Uranus had rings of material circling the planet, similar to Saturn. As early as 1789 Herschel had documented what he thought might be a ring around Uranus. Astronomers discovered more rings over time.
In 1986, Voyager 2 discovered two new rings in its exploration of Uranus, bringing the total number of known rings to 11. Based on their age, it’s likely that the rings were formed from collisions between Uranus’ many moons.
Telescopes have continued to play a role in discovering new Planet facts, despite the success of the Voyager 2 mission. The Hubble Space Telescope discovered two more rings in 2005. The total number of rings around Uranus is currently thought to be 13.
11. The weight of Uranus is 68 x 1025 kg.
12. The temperature on Uranus is – 357 degrees Fahrenheit
13. The radius of Uranus is about 25,362 kilometers.
14. Uranus has the coldest atmosphere than any other planet in the solar system, even though it’s not the farthest planet from the sun.
15. Uranus is more than 1.7 billion miles or about 3 billion kilometers from the Sun.
16. Uranus traces a huge path around the sun that it takes 84 earth years for Uranus to travel once around it. That means each season lasts for about 21 years.
17. Uranus is the only planet in the Solar System to be tilted so far that it is rotating nearly sideways in its orbits. It is also only one of two planets in the solar system (Venus is the other) to rotate in a direction opposite to the rotational direction of the other planets.
This tilt makes the seasonal changes on Uranus extreme during the winter and the summer even though the planet continues to rotate at regular 17-hour intervals.
18. The summer side of Uranus faces constantly towards the sun and the winter side completely stays in darkness. In fact, there are parts of the planet that haven’t seen life for 21 years.
19. The weather on Uranus began to change over the last few years causing an increase in storms and cloud formations with winds of up to 560 miles (900 km/hr).
20. It is possible to see Uranus with the naked eye in good viewing conditions. It was never recognized by ancient people as a planet because it is so damp and moved slowly.
21. Ancient people never thought this planet existed, they always consider it to be a star. It was Sir William Herschel who first recognized that it was not a star in 1781.
22. Uranus is the first planet that was discovered with a telescope.
23. Uranus was first known as George’s Star, in honor of King George (the third) but other astronomers felt that the planet name should stay in line with the mythological origins of the other planets.
24. Uranus was named after the Greek God of the Sky.
25. Uranus has a system of 13 Rings and 27 Moons circling around it.
25. Each Moon of the Uranus was named after a character from William Shakespeare’s “a midsummer night’s dream”.
26. The largest Moon of Uranus was named after the “queen of the fairies “from William Shakespeare’s “a midsummer night’s dream”.
27. In 1789 the Rings around Uranus were first observed, but these rings were not confirmed for about nearly 200 years.