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Cool Facts About the Planet Uranus, Part Two

Here are some more cool facts about the planet Uranus and this is a continuation of part one. 

* Although sometimes called a gas giant planet, Uranus really isn’t a gas giant. This is because the cloud tops of Uranus are so cold that they are frozen. The temperature at the cloud tops is between -323 F and -375 F. Unlike Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus produces less internal heat than it receives from the sun. Most accurately, Uranus should be called an ice giant rather than a gas giant.

* It takes 84 Earth years for Uranus to orbit the sun once. Because of its tilt, this means that the northern pole is facing the sun for 42 years while the southern pole is in darkness, then this is reversed.

* Uranus is the second least dense planet in the solar system. Saturn is the least dense, having a density of about 69% that of water, meaning that Saturn would float in water. However, Uranus has a density of only 127% that of water, meaning that it would sink in water, but only very slowly. Because of the low density, the gravity at the cloud-top level on Uranus is only about 89% of that at the surface of the earth, even though Uranus is far larger. That is to say that a person who weighed 200 pounds on Earth would weigh 178 pounds at the cloud-tops of Uranus.

* Uranus appears pale-blue due to the presence of methane in its atmosphere. This is the third most abundant compound there. The atmosphere also contains acetylene, methylacetylene, and ethane, all of which are hydrocarbons. Within the icy atmosphere, there is also ammonia, water, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide ices. While the earth is sometimes called the ‘blue planet’, Uranus is actually bluer than the earth.

* That we know of, Uranus has at least 27 moons. However, they are all small. The largest moon of Uranus is Titania, with a diameter of only 980 miles. All of the moons are named after characters in the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. (Titania was the Queen of the Fairies in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.)

* Some of the winds on Uranus can reach 560 mph, about double the speed of the Jet Stream on the earth.

* The amount of sunlight that reaches the cloud-tops of Uranus is about 1/400ths of the intensity that strikes Earth’s surface.

* Most of the planets are named for Roman gods. Uranus was named after a Greek god; the only planet named after a Greek god. The radioactive element, uranium, was named after the planet Uranus.

* At the speed of light, it takes sunlight two hours and 40 minutes to reach Uranus.

* A day on Uranus lasts 17 hours, 54 minutes. Although it is far larger than the earth, it spins much faster.

  • Do any of the facts about Uranus that were presented in part one or part two surprise you?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Maybe a little
    • I knew most of this already

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Written by Rex Trulove

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