03/13 – The Discovery of Uranus

Uranus. (World Atlas)

On this day in 1781, Uranus was discovered by German military-band musician William Herschel. Originally thought to be a star by Hipparchos in 128 BCE, Uranus is in fact the third largest planet in our solar system and possessed of its own ring series. In honour of Herschel’s groundbreaking discovery that enables us to better understand our solar system, here are some important facts about Uranus.

  • Named after the Greek god of the skies, Uranus has been the butt of many jokes since its discovery.
  • Although Uranus has never been touched by humankind, it was lightly probed by NASA during the 1980s. This mission provided NASA with thousands of pictures of Uranus.
  • Uranus has numerous canyons and many craters, a result of countless impacts deep into Uranus’ surface. According to some scientists, Uranus “receives a good pounding” from space debris.
  • Although it is an ice giant, Uranus is one of the gassiest planets around. Since the discovery of hydrogen sulphide on the planet, scientists surmised that Uranus reeks of “human gasses”.
  • Despite occasional hot winds up to 900 km/h, Uranus remains an incredibly cold place. Because it does not generate as much heat as gas giants, Uranus hovers around -226 C.
  • Not satisfied with its first probe, Uranus will likely receive another probing soon. The Uranus Pathfinder, created by the European Space Agency, will likely probe deep into Uranus as soon as 2037.

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