Facts of Uranus for kids will explore all the amazing elements of the seventh planet from the sun. Although it’s not visible to the naked eye, Uranus is the third largest planet in the solar system; it’s also the fourth planet with the largest mass. Amazingly, it’s 14.5 times the mass of Earth. Uranus is an interesting and fascinating planet.
The study of Uranus and everything outside of Earth’s atmosphere is called Astronomy. Many years ago, people gazed up at the night sky and wondered what was beyond the stars. Astronomers already noticed oddballs that had their own paths across the sky. They later called these balls “planets”. In 1939, the world named the nine planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. However, in 2006, Pluto was announced as a dwarf planet.
Here are some more facts of Uranus for kids that you should know about:
What makes Uranus a planet?
Uranus is the first planet that was discovered using a telescope; the planet is named after the Greek God, Uranus, who personifies the sky. Back in the day, it wasn’t recognized as a planet because it was dim and had an inactive orbit. With Pluto no longer designated as a planet, the experts began to rethink the characteristics of a planet.
In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union defined planets as, “Celestial bodies that should (1) orbit around the sun, (2) have a round shape and (3) be gravitationally dominant and no other bodies should be under its gravitational influence.”
What is the planet profile of Uranus?
The equatorial diameter of Uranus is 51,118 kilometers while its polar diameter is 49,946 kilometers. It’s 14.5 times the mass of the Earth and it has 27 moons along with 13 rings. Other facts of Uranus for kids include an orbit distance of 2,870,658,186 kilometers and the orbit period of 30,687 days, roughly 84 years. Uranus turns on its axis every 17 hours and 14 minutes. The temperature is -216 °C. These details were discovered by William Herschel on March 13, 1781.
What is its axial tilt?
The axial tilt of Uranus is similar to the plane of our solar system at 97.77°. This allows the planet to have seasonal changes, unlike other planets. During the solstice, there is only a narrow strip encircling the equator that experiences a swift day-night cycle. At the other side of the orbit, each pole gets 42 years of continuous darkness followed by another 42 years of sunlight. During an equinox, the sun will face the equator resulting in a swift night-day cycle.
What about its visibility?
Uranus is visible to the naked eye when the sky is dark. The planet is easy to find in urban settings with binoculars. Other facts of Uranus for kids– if you want to see more, you should consider amateur telescopes having an objective diameter between 15 to 23cm. This will show you a planet with a pale cyan disk, the center part will appear to be brighter than the edge. By having a large telescope of 25cm or wider, you can see large satellites like Oberon and Titania.
How about the planet’s internal structure?
As mentioned before, Uranus is 14.5 times the mass of Earth. Its diameter is slightly larger compared to Neptune, but it’s 4 times larger than Earth. It’s considered the second least dense planet after Saturn. It’s created from different types of ice like ammonia, water, and methane; the mass of ice is not known. Other facts of Uranus for kids- helium and hydrogen form a small part of the total mass, maybe between 0.5 to 1.5 Earth masses. The remaining non-ice mass is believed to be rocky material. The structure of Uranus consists of 3 layers – a rocky core (center), an icy mantle (middle) and a gaseous helium/hydrogen envelope (outer).
What is the atmosphere of Uranus?
You have to know that there is no clear solid surface within its interior. However, its outermost part which is the gaseous envelope is considered its atmosphere. The atmosphere of Uranus is categorized into 3 layers – troposphere (altitudes of -300 and 50 kilometers), stratosphere (altitudes between 50 and 4,000 kilometers) and thermosphere (altitudes from 4,000 kilometers).
The composition of its atmosphere is dominantly helium, hydrogen, and methane. Another fact of Uranus for kids is in its stratosphere where methane is produced, there are other trace amounts of hydrocarbons like ethane, methylacetylene, acetylene, and diacetylene. There is no known evidence that it has other volatile compounds like water, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.
How about the planet’s climate?
In 1986, Voyager 2 flew by Uranus. Based on the ultraviolet and the visible wavelengths, the climate of the planet is bland compared to other giant planets. Its size closely resembles Neptune. The Voyager 2 recorded only 10 cloud features on the entire planet. The internal heat of Uranus is lower than other giant planets which makes it the coldest planet in the solar system. It’s also called an “ice giant” because of its icy mantle that is surrounded by its iron and rock core.
What moons are around Uranus?
It was mentioned earlier that Uranus has 27 natural satellites. More interesting facts of Uranus for kids are the names of the satellites; they are derived from the works of Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. The main satellites are Oberon, Titania (the largest satellite in Uranus and is considered the eighth largest moon in the solar system), Umbriel (appears to be the oldest satellite), Ariel (appears as the youngest satellite) and Miranda (the smallest of the main satellites).
How about its planetary rings?
Uranus has rings but it’s mostly composed of dark particles; there are 13 distinct rings to date. The brightest of all is the sigma ring, most of its rings are few kilometers wide. The rings are assumed to be young. It’s believed that the rings did not form along with Uranus and they were made from different parts of moons that were shattered in the past.
How many spacecraft have visited Uranus?
Another fun fact of Uranus for kids is it was only Voyager 2 in 1986 that flew by Uranus. So far, only one spacecraft has orbited around Uranus and it was only briefly before heading to Neptune. There are no plans yet to send any mission to Uranus. According to facts of Saturn for kids presently, there is one spacecraft that studies Saturn – the Cassini.
Are there other interesting facts about Uranus?
Why is Uranus an interesting planet? It was the first planet to be discovered using a modern telescope. Before its discovery, Herschel was charting the stars in the Gemini constellation. He then observed an object that appeared to be a disk. At first, his initial conclusion was a comet discovery. He then reported his findings when he started calculating the orbit of the object. He was puzzled because it was circular; note that comets have an elliptical path.
He consulted other astronomers and later realized that he actually discovered a distinct planet. Another fun fact of Uranus for kids is that its color is blue. This is because the methane clouds of the planet absorb colors at the red spectrum. Then when the light reflects back, it’s in the blue-green spectrum. Going back to Herschel, he was given the honor to name the new planet he discovered. He first chose Georgium Sidus, which is the Latin for “Georgian Planet”. He dedicated the planet to the king of England at that time – King George III.
No matter how noble the name was, people didn’t accept it. As a result, many suggested names. Finally, the people agreed on Uranus, in relation to the previous tradition of naming planets after Roman and Greek mythology. As a matter of fact, Uranus is the only planet that is named after a Greek God.
As time went by, the scientific community warmed up to its name. You already know that Voyager 2 flew by briefly in Uranus and because of this mission, they gathered a large number of discoveries and data.
Other facts of Uranus for kids: Because of its plain blue appearance, studying the atmospheric patterns of Uranus is challenging compared to the other planets like Jupiter and Saturn. Thankfully, there is the Hubble Space Telescope. This telescope is equipped with advanced imaging that facilitates the observation of Uranus. When you look closely, you will notice that Uranus is tilted on its side by 98°. According to new studies, a giant impact from a rock, the size of Earth, knocked it sideways.
Its gravity, when compared to Earth, is about 0.9 times stronger. This means that you cannot stand on the Uranus’ surface. Surprising facts of Uranus for kids- it does seem odd that Uranus has 14.5 times the mass of Earth but it would pull at you with less gravity. The universe has many mysteries, but it would take numerous years and technological advancements to completely understand it. For now, it’s enough to understand Uranus and other planets aside from Earth, for it will surely broaden your horizons.