Uranus is the 7th planet from the sun and the 3rd largest. like Saturn it's not very dense. Its “twin” Neptune although smaller, has more mass.
This blue beauty was the first planet to be officially discovered by telescope.
I write officially because many viewers before this, not using telescopes, didn't realize what it was. it was so dim and moved so slow across the sky people thought it a star.
Discovered by William Herschel from his backyard on March 13, 1781. Herschel at first thought it was a comet.
Uranus is visible to the naked eye. You must know exactly where to look and have a clear, dark sky. Similar to a 6th magnitude star it will sometimes appear slightly brighter. This occurs during opposition.
It's a good target in binoculars- and small telescopes of 6-10in(150-250mm) might reveal the small blue disk.
Larger scopes(12in/300mm)may allow you to see the moons Titania and Oberon.
There are 27 natural satellites orbiting the planet. The five largest are visible in larger telescopes.
Titania and Oberon were discovered by Herschel in 1787.
Ariel and Umbriel by William lassell in 1851, and Miranda by Gerard kuiper in 1948.
These moons are fairly small for a gas giant. Titania is only the 8th largest moon in the solar system slightly ahead of Saturn's Rhea.
Like the other giants there is a ring system orbiting the planet. Not as spectacular as Saturn's, these are only a few kilometers wide. There are 13 rings with the E ring being the brightest.
The strangest thing about this celestial body is that it orbits on its side. When we look at pictures of most planets or moons the poles are “top” and “bottom”(there is no actual top and bottom in space). The poles of this planet though are “left” and “right”.
The tilt on the axis is about 97 degrees as opposed to ours here on Earth of about 23.5 degrees. Many astronomer and space scientist believe this came about from a massive impact that rolled the planet on its side.
Because of the tilt and being on its side the poles are facing the Sun for half the time during an orbit. This puts the facing pole in daylight and the opposite pole in nighttime for 42 years.
This orientation also causes the seasons to last about 21 years as opposed to the three months we go through.
A year on Uranus is 84 Earth years long. There is still 20 years to go in Uranian time before its third anniversary.
A day on the planet however is only a little over 17 hours.
Uranium, discovered in 1789 was named for the planet.