Uranus, the first planet to be discovered in the modern times, was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel. Uranus has 27 moons, all of which were named after characters from the stories of Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. One of the most unique features of Uranus is that it is essentially tipped on its side, with a 98°ree tilt. This means that in summer and winter, one pole is essentially pointed towards the sun while the other is pointed away. Despite this orientation, the equator is still the warmest location on the planet. It is unknown how this happens because the sunward pole receives the most energy from the sun. Uranus circles the sun once every 84.01 Earth years.
The atmosphere of Uranus is composed of 83% hydrogen, 15% helium and 2% methane. Unlike Saturn and Jupiter, two other gas planets, it appears that Uranus does not have a rocky core. Instead, it is thought that Uranus' mass is evenly distributed throughout the area of planet. One feature that is similar to the other gas planets is the fast moving winds that blow the clouds around in the atmosphere. In the mid-latitudes of Uranus the winds blow in the direction of the planets rotation at 90 - 360 mph (40 - 160kmh). At the equator, the winds appear to blow in the opposite direction. These bands of opposing winds are responsible for the color variations on the planet. The blue shading of Uranus is due to the methane in the upper atmosphere. The methane absorbs red light giving Uranus that bluish-green color.
- Banded appearance due to fast moving winds
- Methane is responsible for the bluish-green coloring