Uranus is among one of the two ice giants of our solar system. The other ice giant is Neptune. An ice giant is made up of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen and oxygen. The composition and mass of Uranus makes it very close to Neptune. Uranus is also one of the four giant planets. The other three are Neptune, Jupiter and Saturn. These four planets are also called gas giants or Jovian planets. Now let’s explore more about this planet in Uranus facts for kids.
A Quick Guide to Uranus Facts for Kids
Name of Discoverer: Sir William Herschel
Date of Discovery: March 13, 1781
Origin of the word ‘Uranus’: Name based on ‘sky god’ in Greek mythology
Astronomer who suggested the name ‘Uranus’: Johann Elert Bode (German)
Year in which ‘Uranus’ was accepted as official name: 1850
Name given by Herschel: Georgian Sidus (which means George’s Star, as a mark of respect to King George III)
Primary constituents of atmosphere: Helium, Hydrogen and Methane
Constituents of Internal Structure: Methane, Water and Ammonia (ices)
Interior composition: Rocks and ice
Number of Planetary Rings: 11
Five largest Moons: Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Oberon and Titania
Natural Satellites (Moons) of Uranus: 27
Density: 1.285 g/cm3
Distance from the Sun: 19.2 A.U. (one Astronomical Unit equals 150 million kilometers)
Shape of Orbit: Elliptical
Period of one revolution around the Sun: 84 Earth years
Period of one rotation on its own axis: 17 hr 14 min (Earth hours)
Lowest atmospheric temperature: 52 K (−366 °F)
Comparison with Earth
Number of Earths to be fitted inside Uranus: Over 60 Earths
Mass of Uranus as compared to Earth: 14.5 times bigger
Diameter of Uranus as compared to Earth: 4 times bigger
Unique Uranus Facts for Kids
- Uranus is the smallest of all gas giants.
- It ranks at the second position among the lightest planets of our solar system. Saturn being the first.
- It ranks at the third position among the biggest planets of solar system. The biggest planet is Jupiter and the second biggest is Saturn.
- This planet ranks third among the planets having largest radii.
- In terms of mass, Uranus holds fourth position among all other planets.
- It ranks seventh from the sun.
- After olden days, Uranus is considered to be the first planet which is discovered by means of a telescope.
- A Greek astronomer named Hipparchus is probably the first one to witness Uranus in about 128 B.C. But at the time, he considered it as a star rather than planet.
- The earliest and most reliable discovery of Uranus was conducted in December 1690 by an English astronomer named John Flamsteed. He mixed up this planet with a star and spotted it for about six times.
- In 1548, Galileo spotted Uranus but he thought perhaps it was a star. The movement of this planet is actually very slow which is why ancient astronomers confuse it with a star.
- Until 1781, astronomers got a view of this planet about 21 times. However, not a single soul thought it was a planet.
- Following its discovery, Uranus was known in England by the name of Georgian Sidus. This name was given by its discoverer Herschel and its name wasn’t changed until 70 years later.
- At the start, Herschel thought Uranus was a comet rather than a planet.
William Herschel was not an astronomer. In truth, he was a musician but his interest began looking at heavenly bodies when in 1773 he purchased his very first telescope.
- On discovery of Uranus, the King of Great Britain (George III) fixed a yearly salary of £200 for Herschel.
- William Herschel died at the age of 84. Uranus travels around the sun and completes one revolution in 84 years too. It means when Herschel passed away, this planet came back to the exactly same position where it was when he was born.
Uranus is composed of three distinct layers namely:
- The outer atmosphere acts like a covering is made up of gases like Helium and Hydrogen
- The mantle is mainly composed of ices (icy material means a liquid consisting of ammonia, water and the like)
- The core is made up of hard rock containing iron and silicates.
- The chemical element called Uranium was named after Uranus possibly because it was discovered eight years later than the planet’s discovery.
- The color of this planet looks like blue with a little green shade as well. It is possibly due to the presence of methane in the atmosphere of Uranus.
- The name of the first and the last spacecraft that went to Uranus was Voyager 2. This spacecraft visited the planet back in 1986.
- The orbit of this planet lies between those of Neptune (its neighbor-planet) and Saturn.
- A Swedish-speaking physicist and astronomer named Anders Johan Lexell was the first person to calculate the orbit of Uranus. He reckoned Uranus as a planet which was otherwise thought to be a comet.
- The lowest atmospheric temperature on Uranus is 49 K, which is by far the most freezing temperature ever recorded on any planet.
- As compare to the distance of the Earth from the Sun, Uranus lies about 19 times more far-off from the sun.
- A year on Uranus is about 84 times more than earth’s year (365 days).
- A day on Uranus lasts only for 17 hours.
- In France, this planet was known by the name of Herschel. This name was assigned by a French astronomer called Joseph-Jérôme Lefrançais de Lalande.
- Miranda is the smallest moon. It is also the innermost of the five major natural satellites of Uranus. Miranda is named after one of the Shakespearean characters in a drama titled ‘The Tempest’.
- Titania is the largest moon. Its name was chosen by Herschel’s son named John Herschel and it is based on one of the characters of Shakespeare’s play known as ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
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