Monday, 6 October 2014

Uranus's History

Welcome back my fellow learners, this will be my last instalment on planets in our solar system, much to the relief of some I am sure!

Uranus, which was named after Ouranos the Greek sky god, who was the earliest of the god in the heavens, was one of the first planets that was found by scientists.

Even though Uranus can be seen by the naked eye, just the same as the other planets, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn, it was originally mistaken as a star, this was due to the fact this planet has a very slow orbit and is extremely dim. English astronomer William Herschel found Uranus completely by accident in 1781 on the 13th March, using his telescope whilst surveying the stars. However, one star looked somehow different, and inside a year Uranus was known to have a planetary orbit.

Physical Characteristics of Uranus
Uranus colour is quite extraordinary, being a blue green colour, this is due to the methane in its hydrogen-helium atmosphere. This planet often referred to a the ice giant, due to 80% of its mass is made from a mix of water, ammonia and methane ices.

Unlike other planets in our solar system, Uranus is tilted so much that it basically orbits the sun whilst on side, with the axis nearly pointing at the star. This unusual orbit may be due to a collision soon after it was created.

This tilt means Uranus have severe seasons, which can be up to 20 years long, meaning for nearly a quarter of a Uranian year, which is 84 Earth years, the sun shines over each pole, leaving the rest of the planet to live with a long, cold and dark winter.

A planet's magnetic poles are usually a lined with the poles, which it rotates on, however, Uranus' is tilted, with its axis tipped nearly 60 degrees from its axis of rotation. This creates a strange lopsided magnetic field, with the strength of the field found at its northern hemisphere's, being more than 10 times the strength at the southern hemisphere's surface.

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