A mysterious force is sucking Uranus’s atmosphere out into space. When the Voyager 2 space probe flew past Uranus in 1986, it passed through a giant plasma bubble that had escaped from the planet and taken part of the atmosphere along with it. The giant plasma bubble was about 200,000 kilometres long and twice as wide – that’s ten times the circumference of Earth! 

Poetic moons

Uranus’s 27 moons are all named after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope, rather than figures in Greek and Roman mythology like the moons of other planets. The names include Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon.

By George

When Uranus was first discovered in 1781 by William Herschel, he wanted to honour the king of the time, King George III, and named it Georgium Sidus. This name did not go down well with other scientists, and the planet was eventually renamed Uranus, after the Greek god of the sky. A shame, really, because as funny as Uranus may sound, ‘Planet George’ sounds even funnier!


Rolling around

Something huge collided with Uranus billions of years ago, knocking the planet over on its side. And on its side is where Uranus has remained ever since – rolling around in space in its lopsided position.

Earth takes 365 days to orbit the Sun, but it takes Uranus roughly 84 times longer to make that same trip. Because of this, 1 year on Uranus is equal to 84 Earth-years, and each season lasts 21 years. Uranus’s peculiar orbit means that the Sun shines on the gas giant for the entire summer, but winter happens in total darkness. This means that a single day on the planet lasts for 21 years and a night lasts for another 21! On Uranus, you could be celebrating your 42nd birthday and only have lived through a day and a night.