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Uranus Facts for Kids

Sujata Iyer
Did you know that Uranus was the first planet discovered using the telescope? Find more such interesting facts about this enchanting planet in the story given here.
Studying planets may seem boring and even unnecessary to some kids. No one can blame them for not understanding, rather not wanting to understand something as complicated as celestial bodies in the universe. But it's something that cannot be avoided. So, if you want to make your kids learn something about the Uranus, the planet, have them read this article.
Don't go by its unfortunate name, the planet of Uranus has a lot of facets that you probably did not know about. The sections below are going to tend to those unknown aspects so that you get to know this planet a little (or a lot) better than you thought you did. Let's get to it then!

The Discovery

  • Uranus is the seventh planet in the solar system.
  • In 1690, John Flamsteed spotted Uranus, but dismissed it as a star from the Tauri constellation.
  • It was then discovered by Sir William Herschel on 13th March, 1781.
  • Uranus was the first planet that was discovered using a telescope.
  • Hershel initially wanted to honor King George III of England by naming the planet Georgium Sidus or 'George's Star'. But later, it was named after Uranus, the Greek God of the Sky.

Physical Features

  • Uranus is similar to Saturn in one way. It has rings just like Saturn. However, they are not as bright and shiny as Saturn's (which are formed due to luminous ice, by the way). The rings of Uranus are darker and probably much younger than the planet itself.
  • 27 moons orbit around this planet. These have been divided into 3 groups - inner moons (13), large moons (5) and irregular moons (9).
  • All of these 27 moons have been named after William Shakespeare's and Alexander Pope's literary characters.
  • Titania is its largest moon and is the 8th largest in the entire solar system.
  • Instead of rotating like a top like the Earth, Uranus rotates like a barrel, that is, sideways. The degree of tilt for Uranus is almost 99º.
  • Some experts believe that the reason for this enormous tilt is that Uranus and some other celestial body had a collision, as a result of which Uranus got tilted sideways permanently.
  • Since it is at a considerable distance from the Earth too (approximately 1700 million miles), you can view Uranus only on a cloudless night.
  • It is visible to the naked eye only on an extremely clear night.
  • Many astronomy experts believe that it is nothing but a smaller version of the largest planet, Jupiter.
  • It goes about its rotation in the east-west direction. Apart from Venus, Uranus is the only planet to follow this direction for rotation.
  • What is Uranus made of? It has high levels of methane gas, and hence has a luminous bluish green appearance.
  • The methane gas absorbs the red light that hydrogen on the planet gives out.
  • Uranus is considered to be the coolest, compared to other planets in the solar system.
  • The magnetic force that Uranus has, extends up to almost 15-18 times its radius.

Let's Talk Numbers

  • Its approximate distance from the sun is around 1780 million miles.
  • While other planets are known to give out a lot of radiation, scientists believe that the core of Uranus cooled down and has a maximum temperature of about 220-225ºC. (cool??)
  • Scientists also believe that the core has hot water, ammonia and a lot of methane gas.
  • While it takes the Earth just 365 days to complete a single orbit around the Sun, it takes Uranus a looong period of 84 years to do the same! Well, 84 years, 3 days, 15.66 hours, to be precise!
  • Due to this long orbiting period, the seasons on Uranus are extremely long, almost 20 years each.
  • If you thought that was absurd, read this: Uranus completes a single rotation in just 17 hours, 14 minutes 24 seconds!
Though we have so much information about it, one of the most interesting Uranus facts is that it has been visited just once! Yes, Voyager 2, a NASA spacecraft, went across Uranus (almost 50400 miles near it) in January, 1986. It then proceeded towards Neptune, but it took enough photographs for everyone to see and use.
So, don't you think these were some solid and truly eye opening facts about Uranus? I'm sure your kids will find them interesting. They might just make them want to explore the interesting facts about other planets too!