Planet Uranus Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the planet Uranus:

Uranus is the coldest planet in our solar system at an average temperature of -216°C or -357°F. You may be thinking that is why it is a blue color, however, Uranus is blue because its clouds are made of methane which reflects the blue color from the spectrum of colors from the Sun. Another fact about Uranus is that it is a Gas or Jovian planet with an atmospheric composition of 82.5 % Hydrogen; 15.2 % Helium and 2.3 % Methane. Uranus was discovered on March 13, 1781, by William Herschel. Uranus has 27 moons made mostly of rock and ice and 13 rings. Uranus’s largest moon is named Titania, which has a diameter of 1,578 kilometers or 981 miles, about half the size of the Earth’s moon. Another awesome fact about Uranus is that it makes you think you’re skinnier since if you weighed 150 pounds on Earth then you would weigh 136 pounds on Uranus because of the fact that its gravity is only 8.87 m/s2 or 29.1 ft/s2.

Planet Uranus
Planet Uranus

The coolest facts about Uranus is its orbit. The first fact is that it is the 7th planet from the Sun at an average distance of 2,870,658,186 km or 1,783,744,300 miles, which is 19 times farther than Earth is from the Sun. From this distance, Uranus’s average orbit velocity is 24,477 km/h or 15,209 mph, where Earth’s velocity is about 4 times faster. Some other facts about Uranus’s orbit are: the Orbit Circumference of Uranus is 18,026,802,831 km or 11,201,335,967 miles, which is about 19 times more than Earth. The Orbit Eccentricity is 0.04725744, which is almost 3 times more than Earth’s. The Orbit Inclination is 0.77°. So you’re wondering what’s so cool about these Uranus orbit facts so far? Well, we saved the best fact for last: the Equatorial Inclination to Orbit is 97.8°. This means if you draw a straight line from the Sun to Uranus, then this line would almost go through the North and South Pole of the planet. Yes, that’s correct, Uranus lays on its side all the time. In addition to this, it does all this while having a Retrograde rotation, which means its axis rotation is opposite of its orbit of the Sun. Venus is the only other planet that also has this retrograde motion. Even with this awkward movement and on its side, Uranus’s full day is only 17.23992 hours. So observing the facts that Uranus is so far from the Sun and lays on its side implies the facts that Uranus takes 30,687.15 Earth days or about 84 Earth years to make 1 orbit around the Sun and if you live on Uranus’s the North Pole you would get about 42 years straight of sunlight and 42 years straight of darkness!

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Okay, so you’re wondering what are some facts about Uranus’s size? Well, it isn’t a giant like Jupiter but it is still the third-largest planet in our solar system with a Diameter (average) of 50,724 km or 31,518 miles and an Equatorial Circumference of 59,354.1 km or 99,018.1 miles, which is about 4 times more than Earth. The volume of Uranus is 68,334,355,695,584 km3 or 42,460,999,916,448 mi3, which means you could fit about 63 Earths inside it! The Density of Uranus is 1.270 g/cm3, but Earth is 4 times more. However the mass of Uranus is still 15 times more than Earth at 8.6810 x 1025 kg (yes, 25 digits after the decimal). The last size Uranus fact is the Surface Area is 8,083,079,690 km2 or 3,120,894,516 mi2, which is about 16 times larger than Earth’s.

Uranus Color

The color of Uranus is generally blue. Why blue? Well if you remember the Sun gives off all the colors on the spectrum, Uranus is able to absorb all the colors except blue which it instead reflects which gives it the bluish color we see. But why can’t it absorb the color blue? Uranus’s clouds are composed of methane which does not absorb the blue color from the Sun’s spectrum. Earth is the other planet that has a blue color, but that is because of the water.

What is the Diameter of Uranus?

The average diameter of the planet Uranus is 50,724 km or 31,518 miles (radius 25,362 km or 15,759.2 miles). The reason why it is an average is that the diameter is not exactly the same when measured at the equator and when measured from the North and South Pole. The diameter of Uranus’s equator is 51,118 km or 31,763 miles (radius 25,559 km or 15,882 miles). The diameter, when measured from pole to pole, is 49,946 or 31,035 miles (radius 24,973 km or 15,517 miles). It is the quick rotation of Uranus (17 hours, 14 minutes and 24 seconds for a full rotation) which causes this widening at the equator.

Diameter of Uranus compared to EarthWhen compared to the Earth’s average diameter (12,742 km or 7,917 miles), Uranus’s average diameter is 3.9809 times larger. Uranus’s equator diameter is 4.007 times larger than Earth’s equator diameter (12,756.2 km or 7,926 miles). Uranus’s pole to pole diameter is 3.929 times larger than Earth’s pole to pole diameter (12,713.6 km or 7,900 miles).

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What is the average temperature on Uranus?

The effective temperature of Uranus is -216°C or -357°F. At 1 bar of pressure on the planet, the temperature is -197°C or -322.6°F and at .1 bar of pressure on the planet, the temperature is -220°C or -364°F. Although Uranus is not the furthest planet from the Sun it is definitely the coldest planet in our solar system. It also has the least warm core at 4,727°C or 8,540.6°F than any of the other gas planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune). Some scientists propose it could be because Uranus may have gotten it’s 97.8° tilt by some massive collision by another large object, then this collision may have caused the core to release a lot of heat.

Another possible reason why Uranus is so cold is that half the planet is always in darkness because of its tilt, and then this lack of sunlight on 50% of the planet causes these extreme cold temperatures, unlike the other gas giants who generally get sunlight on the entire planet within 1 Earth day. Half of Uranus’s planet does not get sunlight for about 42 years. Think about it this way, if you put a ball in the Sunlight for 10 minutes straight, then the part of the ball that was in the shade for 10 minutes straight will obviously be cooler. So if I take the average temperature of the entire ball’s surface (cool and warm areas) it would be lower than the ball’s surface if I continuously rotated it in the Sunlight for 10 minutes (making sure the whole surface gets Sun).

What is the mass of Uranus?

Uranus has a mass of 8.6810 x 1025 kg or 86,810,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg which is 14.536 of Earth’s mass. Uranus’s mass is the fourth highest of all planets in our solar system. Mass is just how much matter an object contains, for Uranus this matter is ice liquid, ammonia, and methane.

Uranus Mass
Image of Uranus Taken on January 1986 by Voyager 2

Since mass = density x volume, it is intuitive to calculate the mass of Uranus. Its density is 1.27 g/cm3 which is 0.23 of Earth’s density. Its volume is 68,334,355,695,584 km3 which is 63.085 of Earth’s volume. So to get mass in kg we must convert 1.27 g/cm3 to 1,270 kg/m3 and convert 68,334,355,695,584 km3 to 68,334,355,695,584,000,000,000 m3. Now if we multiply these 2 numbers we get 8.68 x 1025 kg.

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Uranus Orbit

The orbit circumference for Uranus is 18,026,802,831 km or 11,201,335,967 miles. At an average orbit velocity of 24,477 km/h or 15,209 mph (.23 of Earth’s velocity), it takes Uranus 30,687.15 Earth days or 84 years to make 1 trip around the Sun. Uranus’s orbital inclination is 0.77°, which is the second-lowest of all planets (Earth’s orbit inclination is the flattest at 0°).

Uranus’s orbit eccentricity is 0.04725744 (2.828 more than Earth), which means it has more of an elliptical orbit around the Sun than Earth. As Uranus goes on this orbit the closest (Perihelion) it will get to the Sun is 147,098,291 km or 91,402,640 miles. The farthest (Aphelion) it will get is 152,098,233 km or 94,509,460 miles. Hence, Uranus’s average distance from the Sun is 149,598,262 km or 92,956,050 miles.

Uranus’s equatorial inclination to orbit is a whopping 97.8° (Earth’s is 23.44°), which is more than any other planet. This means if you take a straight line from the Sun to Uranus, then this line would almost go through the North and South pole of the planet. As you can imagine with this great tilt, if someone were living at the North Pole on Uranus then that lucky individual would have about 40 years of straight sunlight and then about 40 years of straight darkness. The image illustration below shows Uranus’s orbit as it would be starting from 1965. Note: the elliptical and inclination are not shown.

Orbit of Uranus

Uranus Surface

Uranus does not have a solid surface because the upper atmosphere is gas and as you approach the core you would see the gas gradually turn into ice liquid. Hence, there really is nowhere to land on the planet. Instead, the surface is defined as where the atmospheric pressure is 1 bar level.

Uranus has the fourth-largest surface area of our planets at 8,083,079,690 km2 or 3,120,894,516 mi2 which is 15.847 of Earth’s surface area. The temperature at Uranus’s surface is -197°C or -322.6°F which is just a few degrees of having the coldest temperature, where Neptune has the coldest surface temperature at -201°C or -329.80°F. The composition at the surface of Uranus is hydrogen, helium, and methane, but as mentioned this is not a solid surface.

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