Bob the Alien's Tour of the Solar System
Bob the Alien's Tour of the Solar System

Eleven Facts about Uranus

Fact One

After Saturn, a space-craft would have to travel 1,500,000,000 kilometres to reach Uranus. This means the planet is almost twice the distance from the Sun than Saturn is.

Fact Two

Uranus orbits the Sun on its side. Its south pole is pointed towards Earth. The angle of the tilt of the axis of Uranus is 97 degrees. This is probably due to an object the size of Earth smashing into Uranus during its formation billions of years ago.

Uranus from Voyager 2

Fact Three

Voyager 2 was the first manmade object to reach Uranus. It had previously visited Jupiter and Saturn and had taken exciting close-up images of those two planets and their moons. However, when the first pictures of Uranus from Voyager 2 were received on Earth in January 1986, scientists were disappointed to see that it was a pale blue, featureless world. Six years of waiting and all they saw were images like the one on the left!

Fact Four

Uranus' pale blue colour is caused by the methane in its atmosphere which filters out red light.

Fact Five

If we were able to see Uranus' moons orbiting the planet, they would go over and under the planet like lights on a ferris wheel.

Fact Six

Like the other Gas Giants (Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune), Uranus has rings of ice and small rock particles. However, these rings are so faint, they are only visible for special scientific equipment.

Fact Seven

Uranus has 27 moons (so far discovered) orbiting the planet. Ten of these were discovered in 1986 by the Voyager 2 mission.

Fact Eight

A day on Uranus is a few hours shorter than a day on Earth - the planet takes 17 hours to spin on its axis. However, a year on Uranus is much longer than a year on Earth. In fact, it takes 84 years on Earth for Uranus to complete one orbit around the Sun!

Fact Nine

Uranus was the first planet in the Solar System to be "discovered". The planets known of at the time of the discovery of Uranus were Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Ancient astronomers were able to see these objects without telescopes or binoculars and named them after their Gods. Uranus was discovered much later using scientific instruments, in 1781, but was still named after an ancient god (in mythology, Uranus was the ruler of the Gods)

Fact Ten

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


Fact Eleven

Almost all of the moons of Uranus are named after characters in plays written by Shakespeare. The moons of every other planet in the Solar System are named after characters in Greek and Roman mythology. The two moons of Uranus that are not named after Shakespearean characters (Arlel and Umbriel) are named after characters in a book called "The Rape of the Lock" written by Alexander Pope.  

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Uranus Statistics Table

Meaning of NameUranos was the ancient Greek deity of the sky, grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter), father of Cronos (Saturn) and son of Gaia.
Name in Foreign LanguagesUranus (French, German, Latin), Urano (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian), Uran (Russian), Uranos (Greek)
Average Distance from the Sun 2,870,658,186 km / 1,783,744,300 miles / 19.229 A.U.
Comparison with Earth: 149,597,890 km / 92,955,820 miles / 1.000 A.U.
Closest Distance to the Sun (Perihelion) 2,734,998,229 km / 1,699,449,110 miles / 18.280 A.U.
Comparison with Earth: 147,100,000 km / 91,400,000 miles / 0.983 A.U.
Farthest Distance from the Sun (Aphelion) 3,006,318,143 km / 1,868,039,489 miles / 20.083 A.U.
Comparison with Earth: 152,100,000 km / 94,500,000 miles / 1.017 A.U.
Diameter across equator51,118 km / 31,763 miles
Comparison with Earth: 12,756 km / 7,926 miles
Diagram showing planet's size compared to the size of Earth Comparison of diameters of Uranus and Earth
Circumference around equator 159,354 km / 99,018 miles
Comparison with Earth: 40,074 km / 24,901 miles
Mass86,810,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
Comparison with Earth: 5,973,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
Time to spin on Axis17 hours, 14 minutes (in retrograde)
Comparison with Earth: 23 hours, 56 minutes
Time to orbit the Sun84 years
Comparison with Earth: 365 days, 6 hours
Distance planet travels to complete one orbit18,026,802,831 km / 11,201,335,967 miles
Comparison with Earth: 924,375,700 km / 574,380,400 miles
Gravity (Earth = 1)0.91
Escape Velocity76,968 km/h /47,826 mph
Comparison with Earth: 40,248 km/h / 25,009 mph
Temperature at Cloud Tops-216 °c / -357 °F  / 57 K
Comparison with Earth's average temp: 15 °c / 59 °F / 288 K
Contents of AtmosphereHydrogen, Helium, Methane
Known moonsThere are at least 27 moons known to orbit Uranus - Cordelia, Ophelia, Bianca, Cressida, Desdemona, Juliet, Portia, Rosalind, Cupid, Belinda, Perdita, Puck, Mab, Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, Oberon, Francisco, Caliban, Stephano, Trinculo, Sycorax, Margaret, Propero, Setebos and Ferdinand
Past Missions (including nationality and year of launch) None
Present MissionsVoyager 2 (USA, 1977)
Note that although this is still an active missions, it has long since visited Uranus and is active in a completely different region in space.
Proposed or planned MissionsThere are no proposed missions to Uranus

Bob the Alien's Tour of the Solar System
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