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054

Uranus

OLogy Series
place
card
054

Uranus

OLogy Series
place

The oddest thing about Uranus is that the planet, its rings, and its moons "roll" around the Sun on an axis tilted by more than 90 degrees. The other planets orbit more like spinning tops with their axis pointed more straight up and down. This planet's surface is hidden from our view by a thick layer of cold smog.

Frank Summers, astrophysicist

Uranus' narrow rings are made of dark, icy boulders. Hard to see directly, they were discovered when Uranus passed in front of a star and the rings blocked the star's light.

One of the poles of Uranus is always facing the Sun.

Fact
or
Fiction
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Fact

Uranus rotates on its side so at any time, one of its poles is in sunlight. At the pole, days are 42 Earth years long.

Astronomers think something smashed into Uranus.

Fact
or
Fiction
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Fact

Uranus may appear to "lie on its side" because a huge meteorite or other body knocked the planet over while it was forming.

Diameter: 32,000 miles Location>: 7th planet from Sun Number of Moons: 17
Average Distance from Sun: 1.8 billion miles
First observed: 1781
Cloud Top Temperature: -320 degrees F
Orbital period: 84 Earth years
Characteristics: atmosphere made of methane, helium, and hydrogen; has a core of silicate rock; blue-green appearance caused by clouds of methane ice crystals

Image credits: courtesy of NASA; Frank Summers: AMNH.