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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.

Uranus, a distant planet in our Solar System
that orbits the Sun billions of kilometres from
the Earth, but what facts do you know about
Uranus? Apart from it’s slightly odd and funny
name, what else is there to know about this
beautiful planet?

1. Uranus is the 7 th planet away from the Sun,
and by diameter, is the third largest.

2. Like Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus is known as
being one of the gas giants.

3. The planet Uranus gets its name from
“Uranos”, the ancient Greek deity of the sky,
and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter), father of
Cronos (Saturn) and son of Gaia.

4. The angle of the tilt of the axis of Uranus is 97
degrees! This means that Uranus’ south pole is
pointed straight towards Earth. It is believed
that the reason for such a tilt is due to an
object the size of Earth smashing into it during
its formation billions of years ago.

5. Because of the unique tilt of the planet, a
night at one of its poles lasts for 21 Earth
years, during which it will receive no heat or
light from the Sun at all.

6. The atmosphere on this planet is mainly made
up from hydrogen, helium and methane. The
methane absorbs all the red light it receives
from the sun, and reflects the blue light. This
is what gives the planet its beautiful blue

7. It takes Uranus 84 years to orbit the Sun once.

8. All but two of the moons of Uranus are named
after characters in plays written by the famous
William Shakespeare. All the other moons
within our Solar System are named after
characters in both Greek and Roman
mythology. The two moons that are not named
after Shakespearean characters: Arlel and
Umbriel, are named after characters in a book
titled “The Rape of the Lock” by Alexander

9. Saturn is well-known for its rings. However,
many people forget that Uranus has the second
most dramatic set of rings in the Solar System!
Unlike Saturn’s which are made of bright ice,
the rings of Uranus are very dark and narrow
(measuring a few km across). Astronomers
believe that these rings were formed relatively

10. There has only ever been one spacecraft to
visit Uranus. NASA’s Voyager 2 passed by
Uranus in January, 1986. It managed to take
thousands of photographs of Uranus and its
moons before continuing on its journey
towards Neptune . No other spacecraft has
been sent out towards Uranus, and as of the
beginning of 2013, there are no plans for any
future spacecraft to visit this planet.

11. The average surface temperature of Uranus is
-224°C making it the coldest planet in the solar system.

12. There are two main ways to pronounce this
planets name. The most common way is to
pronounce it as “your-anus”. This often gets
many giggles, so to avoid this, Astronomers
have started pronouncing the name as “urine-

13. Because Uranus is so far from Earth (2.57
billion km), it moves very slowly though the
night sky. For centuries it was believed to be
just another star, and wasn’t until the 13 th of
March in 1781 when a man named Sir William
Herschel realised it was in fact a planet.

14. Like Venus, Uranus spins from east to west –
the opposite of what Earth does.

15. The orbital speed of Uranus is 6.6 km per


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