The seventh planet from the sun, Uranus is an ice giant and the third biggest planet in our solar system. Uranus is a big ball of gas just like Jupiter, Neptune, and Saturn, and is called a jovian planet (or gas giant world). This planet appears to be blue-green due to the presence of methane. And there’s so more to this blue giant that you might not know. If you want to learn more about this planet and teach your child about it too, then read this article. We have covered some fun and interesting facts about the planet Uranus that you can read to your kids.
Interesting Facts About Uranus for Kids
Here are some Uranus facts for children. Go and read them – these facts will astound you as much as they would astound your kids!
- Uranus was the first of three planets to have been discovered, thanks to the invention of the telescope. The other two planets that have official discoverers and required discoveries are Neptune and Pluto. The rest of the planets can be seen without the help of a telescope. The Uranus is so dim and indistinguishable from the surrounding stars, that it wasn’t discovered until 1781 by Sir William Hershel. The discovery of this planet made it the first planet ever to be discovered using a telescope.
- Although Uranus is too faint to be seen with naked eyes, its apparent magnitude of 5.8 puts it in the range of naked-eye visibility under a dark sky. It can, however, be easily seen with a pair of binoculars from your backyard if you know where to look! Uranus would look like any other star and can be identified by using a star chart. With a bigger and more powerful telescope, Uranus will look like a flat blue disk.
- What makes Uranus unique is the tilt of its axis. While all the other planets are oriented upwards and spin like tops around the sun, the axial tilt of Uranus is 99 degrees, hence it rotates on its sides. It is thought an ancient collision with another large planet-like body would have knocked Uranus to this extreme tilt.
- Uranus is classified as one of the Jovian planets which are mostly made up of gas. It also has rocky and icy layers deep below but its atmosphere is mostly made up of hydrogen, methane, and helium. It also gets its characteristic blue colour from the methane gas. It also has white clouds that float across its surface which is visible with very powerful telescopes.
- Similar to the other gas planets, Uranus also has rings that are made up of icy particles that can be as big as 10m in size. Its rings are divided into 11 segments but are all very faint. It is also thought that Uranus has dark bands on its gassy surface similar to Jupiter but are hidden and cannot be seen because of the layer of methane on top.
- Only one spacecraft, Voyager 2, has ever flown by the planet Uranus at a close range so far. It flew past the planet on Jan 2, 1986. It took stunning images of the blue planet and its rings. While it flew by the planet, the south pole of the planet was pointing almost directly at the sun! The spacecraft also discovered 10 of its 15 moons that are known so far. It may also have other moons hidden in its rings.
- Uranus is 31,763 miles in diameter and weighs 14.5 times the mass of the planet Earth. It takes 83.8 earth years for the Uranus to revolve around the sun and complete one orbit. Each day is about 17.2 hours. Its odd rotation tilt makes it have extremely long seasons.
- Uranus is believed to be made up of ice and rock along with hot oceans of water and ammonia covering its rocky core. These oceans are thousands of miles deep and completely cover the planet’s rocky core.
- Uranus also has auroras (northern and southern lights) like Earth. However, since it is tilted almost horizontally, its magnetic field is at a wildly-off position making the auroras appear towards the centre of the planet rather than the poles like they do on Earth.
- Uranus also has wild planetary storms that can rage on for months at a time. High power telescopes have revealed incredible squalls that pass underneath its blue cover and it is thought they are similar to the ones on Jupiter. Uranus is the coldest planet in the solar system.
- It is thought that the extreme pressures and temperatures within the gaseous atmosphere of Uranus lead to the creation of microscopic diamond crystals out of carbon atoms that fall like rain.
We hope these on Uranus will leave your kids asking for more. Read these facts about the giant blue planet to your kids and watch them go wide-eyed! If you know some interesting facts about this planet, do share with us in the comments section!