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The planet Uranus in astronomy

 

planet Uranus with adaptive optics

An infrared composite of  both hemispheres of Uranus taken with adaptive optics by the Keck telescope, Nov. 2004.  Lawrence Sromovsky.

 

 

Uranus was accidentally discovered in 1781 by William Herschel, a musician and amateur astronomer. Although it can just be seen with the naked eye— and was catalogued as a star at least back to the 1600s—its planetary nature was apparently not known until Herschel’s discovery. Uranus is almost four times the diameter of Earth, and orbits the Sun once every 84 years at 1.8 billion miles, twice Saturn’s distance. Ruling eccentricity and personal genius, Uranus shows its own eccentricity by being the only planet in the solar system whose axis of rotation is perpendicular to the plane of its orbit. This is believed to be the result of a collision with a planet-sized body early in its history. Its rings, however, are not that unusual. All the gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) have them.

 

 

  Uranus and 7 moons

 

Unlike other satellites that take their names from classical mythology, Uranus’ moons take their names from the writings of Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. Uranus' ten largest moons are Titania, Oberon, Umbriel, Ariel, Miranda, Sycorax, Puck, Portia, Caliban and Juliet. And as of April 2015, Uranus has a total of 27 known moons. The Keck telescope took the Uranus image above using adaptive optics, a technology that compensates for the turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere by rapidly deforming hundreds of tiny mirrors in the telescope’s light path to exactly compensate for the turbulence in that light path.

This Planet-Uranus-in-astronomy page and much of this 600-page website are excerpted from the personalized Fine Art Book You and the Universe.

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