Uranus as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Note the cloud bands of different ices! Image credit: NASA/ Hubble.

Uranus as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Note the cloud bands of different ices! Image credit: NASA/ Hubble.

Hello and welcome back, Earthlings!

This week I dedicate to the seventh planet of the Solar System- Uranus. This "Ice Giant" may just look like a powder blue ball, but truthfully, that's all we really know about it. Which definitely makes it mysterious! Let's take a look at some cool facts about this planet:

1-Uranus has 27 (known) moons, though there could be more, much smaller ones. The largest ones are: Miranda, Umbriel, Ariel, Titania, and Oberon. Do these names sound familiar? If you're a Shakespeare fan...

2-The original name for this planet, discovered in 1781, was "George's Star" for King George III of England, but the astronomical community decided the Latinized form of the Greek God of the Sky, Ouranos. 

3-Voyager 2 was the only spacecraft to take pictures of this icy giant. The Cassini spacecraft could only get pictures from a far distance being at Saturn. The recent New Horizons craft studied the moons instead onwards to Pluto. Maybe we will send something there someday?

4-Its atmosphere is mainly methane, which explains why the bluish hue. However, there are amounts of hydrocarbons formed when the methane molecules become irradiated. 

5-Despite Uranus being closer to the Sun than Neptune, Uranus is in fact the coldest planet. While Neptune goes down to temperatures of 70 K (-333 degrees Fahrenheit), Uranus can go down to 47 K (-375 degrees Fahrenheit). BRRR!!! This could be due to Neptune having a thicker atmosphere to trap what little heat there is. 

6-Yes, Uranus does spin on its side. For comparison, Earth spins on its pole at 23.5 degrees. Uranus is at 99 degrees! How did it get that way? Astronomers are still trying to figure that out!

Crescent Uranus as Voyager 2 passes by. Image credit: NASA.

Crescent Uranus as Voyager 2 passes by. Image credit: NASA.

Thank you for visiting and come back next week on a look at the cute little CubeSATS that could revolutionize our own satellites!