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Guide to Uranus

Updated on January 3, 2015

Guide to Uranus

The most overlooked planet. Some Americans would say the planet with the worst name. Sol VII. Georgium Sidus. George's Star. Hershel. Dumbbell. Caelus. The Ancient Greeks preferred Ouranos.

This is the Seventh Planet.


Each world has its defenders, its loyalists, and its fan club of sorts.

Don't believe it?

1. Remember the fuss when Pluto got demoted from being a planet? It almost got busted down to asteroid status except its defenders pointed out that it has moons despite its small size (never mind that a few large asteroids have moons) and traditionally it is the ninth planet. So the scientific authorities compromised and designated it a dwarf planet along with a few others (Ceres, Haumea -- which has moons, Makemake, and Eris).

2. Mars has a whole community devoted to it. It is no longer accurate to call it "Mars Underground" any more when you have high profile projects announced about colonizing Mars. The Mars community includes a range of people from ordinary Joes and Jolenes to billionaires, scientists, engineers (who need to work on that magnetosphere problem), and artists. I even came across a website devoted to Mars that actively insults people interested in colonizing the moon (of Earth). It reminds one of college sports rivals.

3. People have built academic careers around Jupiter.

4. I suspect that the new underground is probably for Mercury or Venus or Ceres. Please note if you are a regular visitor to this lens that I no longer say up above each "planet" has its defenders because planets are not the only game in town. Some moons (such as Ganymede) and asteroids (such as Ceres) are tempting destinations for world builders, terraformers, and engineers.

5. Although we know that astrology is pseudoscience, we also know that people choose mates based on sharing the same favorites. If a couple fell in love because they liked the same song or the same movie, should we really be surprised when a guy and a gal get together because they both like the planet Saturn?

So it reasonable to imagine that Uranus might have its fans. You might be one of them but you have kept your silence because of embarrassment at the porn and the humor. Read the articles on pronunciation and gather some verbal ammunition (and some ideas for practical jokes and payback). And learn some facts to counter those who say that Uranus is the most boring planet. Nonsense. Venus has a boring atmosphere. It never does anything other than look uniformly white. Uranus will flash clouds and colors and aurorae and lightning for the patient observer. One day, Uranus fans will not be afraid to admit that it has always been their favorite planet. They might even say it openly.

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto all have had dedicated missions. When will planetary scientists who study the Seventh Planet and fans of Sol VII get a flagship mission? And if not a flagship mission, then a cheap Discovery class mission in NASA parlance. And if the anti-science members of Congress prevail and kill it altogether then perhaps the European Space Agency or the Russian Space Agency or the Japanese Space Agency or the Chinese Space Agency (well maybe not them, since they don't do much science in space) or the Indian Space Agency or the Brazilians or Argentines or South Africans. We don't care who or what combination of nations or NGO's sponsors a mission as long as we get one.

Well hold on to your hat, the rumor is that NASA is considering (in a really really bad budget climate no less) a mission to Uranus!!! Is it time to break out the champagne? Or will we have to start petition drives and calling our Congressmen and sending "please fund this mission" videos to Speaker of the House John Boehner? It would not hurt if we got one or two other nations to collaborate and kick in some money to develop the spacecraft because that would undercut the argument that we can't afford it. And universities from all over the world would fight for the privilege of having scientists on the mission team -- although there are several American universities with deep pockets and impressive planetary science programs that already work often with Jet Propulsion Laboratory. No, to me the money arguments are bull. The money and the brainpower can be gotten. It is all about the political will to do it.

So if you are reading these words, then stay on your member of Congress until they come across with a mission to the Seventh Planet. Don't accept no for an answer.


When will we go to the Uranine Subsystem? When will we go ourselves? Not a robot proxy or even astronaut explorers but ourselves as tourists, miners, pilots on layover, employees of multiplanetary corporations, students, and citizens of Uranus? (maybe even as radical terraformers and colonists)

Where is this place? Uranus is twice as far from the Sun as Saturn. Neptune is out near Pluto, trans-Neptunian objects, and the Kuiper belt. Uranus is thus in the least crowded and most lonely part of the Solar System. In the past, it got very exciting. Uranus was smashed by something large enough to knock it on its side. Miranda was so bombarded by asteroids that it became the Frankenstein's monster of the Solar System with its patchwork quilt surface seemingly sewn together like that creature.

Now it is quiet. Uranus and its moons are presently the best place in the Solar System to get away from it all.

So let's go.

Guide to Uranus news

This is space art not an image. The artist is Drummerboy08 at Deviant Art. Christmas is past but I like the image and so it stays for now.

I have decided that instead of using the introduction for news as in my other lenses, that in this lens I will leave the introduction alone and use this art work as a place to post news.


The federal budget is now under sequestration which means across the board spending is cut. This almost certainly means a mission to the Seventh Planet is doomed unless you lean on your elected representatives. My question: If spending and cuts in spending is now automatic, then what do we need Congress for? Let's save a ton of money and take away their salaries, expense accounts and franking privileges. Franking means that they can send junk mail for free to raise campaign donations.

Second news, my Uranium West fiction series set on the moons of Uranus is getting a few more readers than I expected (I expected zero).

NASA's New Horizons probe has reached and passed the orbit of Uranus on its way to Pluto.

The Herschel Space Observatory will, by the end of March, exhaust its supply of liquid helium coolant and cease to function.


A new phase of water could dominate the interior of Uranus. Okay, this is a bit of news that would interest only chemists and physicists and planetary scientists. It also would interest planet hunters in the astronomy community because they have discovered from the Kepler mission that Uranus-type extra-solar planets are far more common than Jupiter-type planets. [Let's take inventory: We already knew that Uranus has liquid diamond, the most accessible Helium-3 in the Solar System, and a magnetic field that does not pass through the center of the planet but is off-center. What other curiosities is this planet hiding?]


Uranus was thought to be incapable of having a Trojan asteroid at one its Lagrangian points (sort of like an infertile couple) unlike Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune but lo and behold -- 2011 QF99 has been discovered at Uranus' L4 Lagrange point 3 billion kilometers ahead of Uranus in its orbit about the Sun. This asteroid is 60 kilometers wide. However, in seventy thousand years Uranus will go back to not having a Trojan when the asteroid is ejected from orbit.


the electrical kind

Solar panels don't work out here. So the power methods of choice would have to be:

1. RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator) -- unfortunately, these tend to use plutonium and that makes the builders poor stewards of the environment at best (criminal polluters at worst)

2. fusion -- unfortunately, since the USA has cut its research budget and industry has not yet increased its funding of fusion research and university research seems to be slow; this is not available yet

3. some sort of power generation that exploits ambient energy in the environment -- unfortunately, most readers think this is the mythical zero point energy for which no one has even demonstrated an experiment yet of which I am aware

4. some sort of power generation that exploits ambient energy in the environment -- Uranus has a strange magnetic field and auroras. Can some way be found to capture that energy and put it to work? This would be like using the North magnetic pole to power systems normally knocked out of commission by magnetic storms. You might call it auroral energy. But is this idea crazy enough to work?

5. matter/antimatter annihilation -- unfortunately, these would be too big for a probe or an interplanetary ship. Almost by definition, these are for starships. Not to mention the long lead time before we ever see this technology.

6. solar sails -- unfortunately, while these work for propulsion, they do not provide power. A solar windmill would need to be invented.

7. geothermal -- unfortunately, this will not power a spacecraft. However, the good news is that once we arrive, several moons have obviously active geologies that could power a colony.

8. thermal energy conversion -- unfortunately, this probably won't work for propulsion or most other applications off Earth. However, any place on a moon that has a fair variation in temperature between surface and underground can use recycling fluid.

Why alternatives to radioisotopes? Conscience. The Cassini probe contains 400,000 curies of plutonium 238, a factor of 30,000 times the 13 curies authorities claimed were released from the Three Mile Island accident which created billions of dollars in lawsuits. We are looking both for extraterrestrial life and looking for places to terraform. Why contaminate places we plan to live? Why kill the very alien life we claim (possibly in self-delusion) to be searching for? Why lie to ourselves? These places in the Solar System are beautiful. Everyone who has seen the images knows that. Why be evil and despoil that beauty?

Open For

the business of Uranus

Obviously any commerce on the moons of Uranus will be mining any scarce minerals. But why bother when The Main Asteroid Belt has all the metal and strategic element ore? Fresh water? Ceres has more than Earth. And if you need more water for Mars, then you tow in icebergs from the Kuiper Belt or Oort Cloud. Or you hijack a passing comet for its water ice. Tourism? They'll head to Mars or to the Galilean moons of Jupiter or to the Saturn subsystem or to Neptune. Nothing of value in or near Uranus and nothing to see. Perhaps it will be a stopover until better and faster propulsion eliminates even that scrap of business. So Uranus will be a backwater. Obviously.

Not so fast. The core of Uranus is supposed to be diamond. And the gravity is actually less than Earth so we could actually mine it with both humans and robots. On Uranus, it is said to rain diamonds.

And it has helium. Not just the balloon kind. But the valuable-for-fusion isotope Helium-3 kind. The oil of the 21st Century. Its upper atmosphere does not have the gravity well and dangerous winds that other large planets have.

Wait. Isn't Jupiter supposed to be the best source of it? What about Saturn and Neptune? And Luna? Earth's moon? Jupiter has a really bad gravity well and deadly radiation. Like Jupiter, Saturn gets frequent meteor showers. Neptune is too far away. And lunar helium has to be extracted while dealing with complaints from many people about "strip mining the moon". If you dismiss the complaint factor, then how would you like to be an evil strip miner with seven billion people watching you every night from Earth as you change the appearance of the formerly romantic moon? And why should you laboriously extract from the surface of the Moon, when all you need to do is suck in the airy gold from the upper atmosphere of a gas giant? Any way you slice it, Uranus is the best place to get Helium-3 and perhaps deuterium for fusion.

Uranus is also a major source of methane in the Solar System.

Uranus may not be a backwater planet after all. Who would have thought?


John Flamsteed

Flamsteed accurately calculated the solar eclipses of 1666 and 1668. He was responsible for several of the earliest recorded sightings of the planet Uranus, which he mistook for a star and catalogued as '34 Tauri'. The first of these was in December 1690, which remains the earliest known sighting of Uranus by an astronomer.

courtesy -- Wikipedia

Sir Frederick William Herschel

aided by his sister Caroline, he discovered the planet Uranus


This stained glass window adorns the Coats Observatory and the subject is Sir Frederick William Herschel who was the first person to discover a planet, the planet Uranus.

© Copyright Lairich Rig and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Emily Lakdawalla

Emily Lakdawalla is a blogger for the Planetary Society. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology from Amherst College and a Master of Science degree in planetary geology from Brown University.

Heidi Hammel - Vice President of the Board of Directors The Planetary Society & Executive Vice President of AURA, Inc.

Dr. Hammel received her undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982 and her Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from the University of Hawaii in 1988. After a post-doctoral position at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, California), Hammel returned to MIT, where she spent nearly nine years as a Principal Research Scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

Hammel primarily studies outer planets and their satellites, with a focus on observational techniques. For the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in July 1994, Hammel led the Hubble Space Telescope Team that investigated Jupiter's atmospheric response to the collisions. An expert on the planet Neptune, she was a member of the Imaging Science Team for the Voyager 2 encounter with the gas giant in 1989. Her latest research involves studies of Neptune and Uranus with Hubble and other Earth-based observatories. Hammel is also an Interdisciplinary Scientist for Hubble's successor,the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled for launch in 2018.

Clubs, Societies, Associations and Organizations dedicated to interest in the planet Uranus


American Association for the Advancement of Science



Encyclopedia of Associations

Xanga groups

editor's note -- You may have to start a group if none exists. For history buffs, that's a rolodex which was before Filofax which was before The Blackberry which was before the iPhone which was before modern technology.

Uranus in speculation and fiction

You have heard of LAWKI -- life as we know it. I mention this concept because people (even scientists) talk about finding life elsewhere when most people know that they really mean life like us. Considering that DNA is responsible for such a diversity of life that it is hard to believe that a slime mold, a giant jellyfish, a giraffe and a stand of aspen trees have anything in common; we should be less narrow in our thinking about what to look for and what "it" (life) will look like. It might be the size of a planet like in Solaris or smaller than a prion.

What about LAWDKI? Life as we don't know it? Scientists are already looking for examples of species that substitute other elements for carbon. Most recently one that incorporated arsenic into its DNA turned out to have simply taken in toxic elements from pollution. So we have to keep looking.

I once started a science fiction series about life evolving on Uranus and its moons. I figured that because Uranus was tilted differently than all the other planets and had a stranger magnetic field than the other planets and because it was the most ignored of all the planets, that it had to have possibilities. Uranus? Boring, most people think. They want to hear about little Pluto or Mars the death trap for probes or Venus with the runaway greenhouse effect or Neptune and its storms and disappearing spots or Jupiter the big one or Mercury hot on one side and freezing on the other or Saturn with the gorgeous rings. Who the heck wants to know about obscure Uranus? They even got the name wrong. Yes, I figured that Uranus was the perfect place as a setting for a science fiction story. You'd expect to find life on Mars or near Jupiter (Europa) or near Saturn (Titan) or even one of the hundreds of new extra-solar planets circling other stars. The last place you would expect to find life (much less interesting life) would be Uranus. But Uranus has an odd color, and an odd tilt and an odd magnetic field. Who knows what else is odd about the forgotten world of Herschel?


HOLST - Uranus from "The Planets Suite"

Gustav Holst, The Planets - VI. Uranus, The Magician

Plays by William Shakespeare

Titania, Oberon, and Puck are characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

midsummer near Uranus

Plays by William Shakespeare

Miranda, Caliban, Sycorax, Prospero, Setebos, Stephano, Trinculo, Francisco, and Ferdinand are characters in The Tempest.

The Tempest

Uranus has faint rings - not spectacular like Saturn

Uranus was the first planet that was "discovered". The other planets were known since antiquity. Actually, Uranus is the farthest planet that can be seen with the naked eye but it was thought to be a star. It was therefore re-discovered when astronomers realized that it was a planet not a star.


Uranus orbits the Sun on its side with its axis tilted at 97 degrees. Its south pole is pointed towards Earth. It rotates on its side, with its moons going down under the bottom and over, instead of the type of circling we are used to with the other planets and moons, and it revolves around the sun in a barrel roll.


Uranus is more greenish than Neptune.

The Planet Uranus - (AggManUK)

facts about Uranus

1. It is the coldest planet in the Solar System.

2. Relative to the other planets, it is turned over and spins on its side.

3. Summer on Uranus is 42 of our Earth years. It is warmer at the poles than at the equator.

4. Some clouds in the upper atmosphere only last hours while others last years.

5. It was the first planet discovered since antiquity and the first planet discovered in the modern age and the first planet discovered with a telescope.

6. Only one probe has visited it and there are no plans to send another. During that one flyby, the Challenger Disaster happened so NASA was distracted. Not only did the public not pay attention but neither did most scientists. And that scant attention soon faded in memory.

7. It is one of the brightest planets when viewed from Earth because of its glowing gases. Uranus is equivalent in brightness to a sixth magnitude star.

8. It was originally named Georgium Sidus (George's Star).

9. Herschel fought with other astronomers over the new planet's name. He wanted to name it after King George III of England while they wanted to name it after Hershel. After he died, they got their wish briefly.

10. Uranus is the only planet with a Greek name rather than a Roman one.

11. It has a large rocky core, and because of the tremendous pressure it could possibly contain trillions of large diamonds. [go there and stake your mining claim now]

12. People wanted to name it Dumbbell because the planet made scientists look dumb by not discovering it sooner.

13. Despite being a giant planet, surface gravity there is less than surface gravity here on Earth! (if you can find a surface on which to stand)

14. The magnetic poles are tilted at sixty degrees to the rotational poles.

15. Gravity on Uranus is actually less than the gravity on Venus.

16. You can see Uranus without a telescope with the naked eye.

17. Uranus is the forgotten planet based on the fact that it has the least number of articles in any given search of the internet and academic databases of the nine traditional planets. Even demoted Pluto gets more interest because of the New Horizons mission.

18. If number eleven above was not enough, the planet may have diamond oceans. If the idea of liquid diamond strikes you as impossible, then consider the liquid crystal display (LCD) that you might be wearing on your wrist watch.

16 Facts About Uranus

Inside the Gas Planet

"Without a doubt the biggest surprise to me of the Voyager 2 encounter was the discovery that the magnetic poles of Uranus were tilted at sixty degrees to the rotational poles. On Earth this would be like having the magnetic north pole in Houston, Texas, instead of in the Canadian Arctic."

-- John Cooper, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and Uranus Pathfinder scientist

(Cooper was part of the Voyager 2 team during the 1986 Uranus flyby)

Learn About Uranus

"Uranus is one of the most chaotic and disruptive systems in the solar system."

Mark Showalter

The sounds of the Uranus Rings

The Weather on Uranus

Besides the wind and the cold, what is the weather on Uranus like? How about hail storms? Deep within the atmosphere, hail stones may be as large as boulders and made of diamond. It definitely will break the windshield of your car.

Magnetic storms are another matter. They allow in solar radiation (we are not talking about friendly wavelengths); cause whales to beach themselves (toxic chemicals and infectious medical waste dumped into the ocean is another cause) because they navigate by sensing the magnetic field; disrupt navigation of humans using compasses, GPS and LORAN; knock out communications and electrical grids, and fry satellites. Uranus has the mother of all strange planetary magnetospheres. Therefore if your systems can survive a magnetic storm there, then they might survive a magnetar -- not that the human race will be exploring any magnetars (extreme magnetic stars) any time soon.

On the bright side, besides being a good place to test new electronics, Uranus must have the Solar System's most beautiful and awesome auroras.

Seasonal Changes on Uranus

Seasons on Uranus

Each of the four seasons on Uranus last 21 of our years.

Atmosphere in Processed Color

A latitude-longitude grid superimposed on this Voyager 2 false color image demonstrates that Uranus' atmosphere circulates in the same direction as the planet's rotation.


Why does Uranus look more greenish and Neptune more blue?

The percentages of chemicals is different.


On the 16th of November of 2011, astronomers finally caught an aurora on Uranus. Unlike aurorae on other planets, they do not last long and they lack vivid color.

Also, this aurora (the white spot) is on the day side of the planet. One can only guess at what (if any) auroral acitivity is on the night side.


True Color and False Color

false color is used whenever looking at something in some wavelength other than visible light such as ultraviolet, infrared or X-ray or gamma or radio.



Uranus Moons

Uranus has 27 known moons.

the Uranus subsystem

image from European Southern Observatory

Uranus and some moons

Near Infrared Filter



Uranus -- The coldest atmosphere in the solar system is Uranus’ atmosphere with a temperature of minus 371 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 224 degrees Celsius). By contrast, Pluto is suffering a heat wave with its face at -364 degrees Fahrenheit (-220 degrees Celsius). Pluto’s atmosphere is even warmer at -292 degrees Fahrenheit (-180 degrees Celsius).

Titania -- the largest moon of Uranus, it may have a thin atmosphere which gives it membership in the Moons With Atmospheres Club consisting of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter, four Saturnine moons (Titan, Rhea, Dione and Enceladus) and Neptune's Triton. Titan has a thick atmosphere.

Margaret -- the only prograde irregular moon of Uranus. The other irregulars are retrograde. Margaret also has the most eccentric orbit of any moon in the Solar System, but this is temporary.

Cordelia -- the innermost moon of Uranus and closest to the planet

Ariel -- the name is of a sylph in Rape of the Lock and a sprite in The Tempest; the least cratered moon, the brightest in terms of albedo

Miranda -- at one point in its history was probably the most geologically active moon in the Solar System. Also has the deepest canyon. Miranda boasts the highest cliff in the solar system, Verona Rupes, which has a drop-off of more than 3 miles (5 km).

Umbriel -- the darkest of all Uranus's moons and possibly the darkest moon in the Solar System

Oberon -- the most heavily cratered moon that orbits Uranus.

Ferdinand -- the outermost moon of Uranus and farthest from the planet

Puck -- the largest inner moon.

Shepherd Moons ?

Three of the moons of Uranus get their names from the poetry of Alexander Pope, the rest derive from the plays of Shakespeare but not his sonnets.

A tour of Uranus and its moons on the day the rings were discovered

Editor's note -- you may need to turn up your volume to hear this video.

montage of Uranus and its major moons

Every photographer knows that when photographing children, dogs, cats and other moving objects that getting them to stand still and pose is a major challenge. After a few billion years, Voyager managed this shot. However, the experience was filled with such fear and loathing that she (V'ger) has left the Solar System never to return.



It has a bright ring on it called the Fluorescent Cheerio. From what astronomers have seen, they think it is the bottom of a crater.

The Wunda crater is located on the north pole of Umbriel, and it has a very bright ring-shaped floor that is about 20 kilometers across.

Umbriel is the name of a sprite in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock.

About the photograph:

The southern hemisphere of Umbriel displays heavy cratering in this Voyager 2 image, taken Jan. 24, 1986, from a distance of 557,000 kilometers (346,000 miles). This frame, taken through the clear-filter of Voyager's narrow-angle camera, is the most detailed image of Umbriel, with a resolution of about 10 km (6 mi). Umbriel is the darkest of Uranus' larger moons and the one that appears to have experienced the lowest level of geological activity. It has a diameter of about 1,200 km (750 mi) and reflects only 16 percent of the light striking its surface; in the latter respect, Umbriel is similar to lunar highland areas. Umbriel is heavily cratered but lacks the numerous bright ray craters seen on the other large Uranian satellites; this results in a relatively uniform surface albedo (reflectivity). The prominent crater on the terminator (upper right) is about 110 km (70 mi) across and has a bright central peak. The strangest feature in this image (at top) is a curious bright ring, the most reflective area seen on Umbriel. The ring is about 140 km (90 miles) in diameter and lies near the satellite's equator. The nature of the ring is not known, although it might be a frost deposit, perhaps associated with an impact crater.

The Voyager project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


This moon may have an atmosphere. And water ice.


Titania was named for a character in William Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. In the play, she is the queen of the fairies.

Although Uranus has mostly small and lightweight moons, Titania is the 8th largest moon in the Solar System.

Miranda - Moon of Uranus-nasa Voyager Recordings

Miranda's surface has patchwork regions of broken terrain indicating intense geological activity in the moon's past, and is criss-crossed by huge canyons. Large 'racetrack'-like grooved structures, called coronae, may have formed via extensional processes at the tops of diapirs, or upwellings of warm ice. The ridges probably represent extensional tilt blocks. The canyons probably represent graben formed by extensional faulting. Other features may be due to cryovolcanic eruptions of icy magma. The diapirs may have changed the density distribution within the moon, which could have caused Miranda to reorient itself.

FAKTOR4 - Miranda

Miranda - sounds from space



Miranda close up

The canyons on Miranda are 12 times deeper than the Grand Canyon. There are cliffs twelve miles high.

imagine this on Miranda

image source: Chris McNaught from Twin Falls, Idaho

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Feel the need to kill yourself or base jump? Then you will be pleased to know that the highest cliff in the Solar System is Verona Rupes on Miranda, which has a drop-off of over 5 kilometers. If you are suicidal, then there will be plenty of time to dictate your last will and testament into your mobile device as you slowly fall toward your death. If you are an extreme sports fanatic, then base jumping will also give you time to contemplate that Miranda has no atmosphere to open your parachute and perhaps this was not a good idea. If you sold sponsorships to finance your jump, then skydiving fans will get to listen to you scream for a very long time and get their money's worth on pay TV when you splatter at the bottom on sharp rocks.

I think Native Americans yell Custer instead of Geronimo when they sky dive.

Miranda I - The complete collection of the Planets sounds records , NASA Voyager

This is the first 15 minutes of Miranda electomagnetics waves sounds:

"Although space is a virtual vacuum, this does not mean there is no sound in space. Sound does exist as electromagnetic vibrations. The specially designed instruments on board the various space probes used Plasma Wave antenna to record the vibrations used here, all within the range of human hearing (20-20,000 CPS).

Each planet, moon and ring system has a distinctive "musical" pattern. Listening to this unusual recording has a mysteriously relaxing effect. After a long hard day, you can bring your brainwaves into a slower and meditative state.

In 1989, Dr. Jeffrey D. Thompson, D.C., B.F.A. was approached by representatives working with NASA and JPL to explore a series of powerful recordings which the Voyager I & II Spacecraft had sent back from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. These recordings seemed to be having a profound effect on the scientists and researchers who were exposed to them. Dr. Thompson was approached as an expert in the field of sound and healing, and especially in his work with "Primordial Sounds." Primordial sounds are human body sounds and nature sounds formatted in special ways to cause a deep response in the subconscious mind. These are extremely useful in all levels of healing. Could the space sounds actually be Primordial Sounds, also -- from outer space but strangely familiar to us?"






It is fitting that this photograph should look blue because Oberon might have liquid oceans below its crust.


image source: USGS Astrogeology Research Program


This Voyager 2 flyby image of Oberon is one of the better ones the probe captured of the outermost satellite of Uranus. Detail goes down to seven miles/twelve kilometers.

The map of Oberon showing known geological features. The large crater with the dark floor (right of center) is Hamlet.

Features: A few big craters with bright rays like those on the Jovian moon Callisto. One notable crater is near the center with a bright central peak and a floor partly covered with very dark material. This may be carbon compounds that erupted onto the crater floor after the crater was formed and then froze over like black ice. A second notable feature of Oberon's topography is a large mountain, about four miles high/six kilometers, barely sticking out on the low left limb of the disk. Mommur Chasma is a canyon. Othello, Hamlet, MacBeth, Caesar, and Antony are craters.

Credit: NASA/JPL


Since no image of Trinculo was available, the editor substituted a picture of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), La Serena, Chile where Matthew J. Holman, John J. Kavelaars, Dan Milisavljevic and Brett J. Gladman officially discovered it in August 13, 2001. Trinculo was actually discovered at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada but they used the four meter reflector at Cerro Tololo.

Trinculo is a natural satellite of Uranus and considered part of the inner group of irregulars. Please do not look for it inside the rings. Remember that the moons of Uranus fall into three categories:

1. the inner moons whose orbits circle within Miranda's

2. the larger moons

3. the irregulars farther from Uranus

First designated S/2001 U 1, Uranus XXI was named for the jester in The Tempest. The editor thought about putting an image of a jester here but it was easier to find (believe it or not) an image of CTIO.

Trinculo Leaving Eclipse

A moon of Uranus leaving the giant planet's shadow. Frames made with AlienSun 3.5.


Trivia: For which witch was Sycorax named? [Answer is below]


Sycorax is the biggest irregular moon of Uranus. The irregular moons are the outer moons (beyond the orbit of Oberon). They are thought to be captured asteroids and devoid of water, which is unusual for Uranine moons. Sycorax is light red in color.

image source: Hale 5-m, Palomar

courtesy B. Gladmann


Answer to trivia question: The mother of Caliban in The Tempest.

Image is artist's depiction.

© Lanthanum-138, created using Celestia





Will there ever be a mission to Uranus?

Only if someone reading this paragraph decides to design a mission and then a second person looks at that mission plan and starts applying for foundation grants and scientists join the mission team, probably through research institute collaborations. Then big corporations, foreign space agencies, major universities, and other sources fund it. Space companies are awarded prime contracts and engineers build hardware and launch technicians launch the first probe dedicated to studying the Uranide subsystem.

(warning: the next part is pure fantasy)

The probe discovers what we always suspected -- Uranus and its moons are the most fascinating part of the Solar System. We find a monolith left by an alien supercivilization that scientists study and then declare is a calling card and an RSVP to come and visit them. In fact, the aliens even tell us how to break the speed of light barrier and compensate for the dilation of time so that we can make a round trip within our lifetimes without astronauts becoming orphans in time. In other words, when they return, everyone they knew will still be alive and relatively young and so will the astronauts.

We not only colonize the moons of Uranus but other planets outside the Solar System. The monolith becomes a huge tourist attraction and we figure out how to terraform the moons of Uranus and bring light and warmth and atmospheres and water and forests and farms to this previously forbidding part of the Solar System.

The strange magnetic field of Uranus has rejuvenating effects on visitors. In other words, it is the fountain of youth. And it also makes you smarter. Unfortunately, it is not Planet Krypton and so people are not turned into gods like Superman. But on the bright side, at least the planet does not explode and litter space with that pesky mineral kryptonite.

And that's enough fantasy for now.

Terraforming the Moons of Uranus

Luna (Earth's moon) does not have a worldwide magnetic field or magnetosphere, which is useful for protection from solar and cosmic radiation such as gamma and X-rays. However, it does have magnetic patches which might be safe havens for human settlers. Since magnetospheres are rare in the Solar System, discovery of magnetic patches could be a godsend for terraformers. The alternative is some nasty and time-consuming (we're talking millions of years) process of engineering worlds to somehow install the molten metal core necessary to generate a magnetosphere.

Except possibly the rocky moons beyond the orbit of Oberon, almost all the moons of the Uranine Subsystem have water ice. The moons close to the planet appear to have tidal heating which means that like Iceland on Earth, any settlers could exploit geothermal power and heating. That's water, electricity and heat. The two largest moon may have traces of thin atmosphere. So the only thing left for terraformers to do is figure out how to boost gravity not only for healthy bones but so that when they create a thicker and breathable atmosphere, the little moons will be able to hold onto them. I would not expect some miraculous technology like in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan to be invented anytime soon so we have to do terraforming the old-fashioned way -- hard work and current technology.

But it would not hurt to study Pluto and figure out how such a small dwarf planet is able to hold onto five moons at last count.

Terraformed Worlds

This video includes the terraformed moons Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, and Oberon.

You have to suffer through those forgettable other planets and moons before getting to five fascinating moons of Uranus.

How do you stop the puerile jokes ?


1. When some one says "Uranus" to you, they are not referring to a planet. They are insulting you. "You ranus!" This unflattering epithet is a truncation and corruption of the word "ignoramus".

2. If in school or college, the obvious thing to do is to point at their butt and say: "No. _YOUR_ anus." Or, better yet, pull down their pants and upload the video to the internet. That should shut them up permanently.

3. Complain to the media every time some talking head on the television gets it wrong.

4. It is possible that the speaker simply does not know any better and is very willing to hear a correction. So be nice and gently correct their pronunciation.

5. Wear them down by constantly correcting the trouble makers. They will stop when they realize no one is laughing with them -- just at them.

6. Ignore them if ignoring is the best tactic.

7. Post articles like this everywhere: on astronomy bulletin boards, on websites, in YouTube videos, and everywhere you can think of.

8. Get the scientific authorities themselves to go with it. There are differences in pronunciation from East Coast USA to West Coast USA and from Midwest USA to Southern USA and from Canada to UK to Australia to India and South Africa and everywhere. But over time, the annoying way of pronouncing the name will be eliminated and wiped out (no pun intended) with our concerted effort.

And yes, we have a sense of humor but the jokes have got to go.

Why are Americans so hung up on the name?

Freud would call it arrested development at the anal stage resulting in infantilism. This is why mentally ill people in the USA who imagine alien abductions always talk about rectal probes. Americans are to be pitied for this obsessive compulsion.

While Americans are busy laughing in ridicule, others will be crying all the way to the bank.

only Americans are childish and immature about the pronunciation

As these sound bites in other languages demonstrate.

How do you pronounce the name?


You're a nuss as in "You are a Nuss." (Whatever the heck a nuss is.)

I believe that Dr. Carl Sagan preferred this pronunciation. Others think the more proper pronunciation is yoo rah' nus, with the second syllable being stressed.

[I think the idea with this latter pronunciation is either something like "You ran us" -- off the property with a shotgun. With "ran" pronounced like the name Ron. Maybe these are Englishmen. Or perhaps the idea is a pronunciation like saying "your honor" in court to a judge.]

Here is an easy to remember pronuncation: "your honest" as in your honest opinion. (just drop the T sound on the end)

If you love this planet, then go with one of these pronunciations or the ancient Greek name for Uranus.

How to Pronounce Uranus

The Final Word on Pronunciation

Pronouncing "urine is" not an improvement.

The Ancient Greeks themselves pronounced it OO-RAN-OUS and since they are the ultimate authority, that settles the matter.

What is an inhabitant or colonist of Uranus?

image © Jasenka Petanjek  for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike
image © Jasenka Petanjek for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike

Everyone knows that Martians come from Mars. So what do we call people from Uranus?


the image is: 'Snack while raining'

image © Jasenka Petanjek

for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike

What is the best name for people from Uranus?

See results


To Boldly Go - Uranus: The Planet That Got Knocked on its Side

Clip from a 1990 episode of NOVA featuring Voyager's Grand Tour, narrated by Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation). Included: Voyager 2 imaging problems threaten to end its mission at Saturn, unusual axial tilt of Uranus, reprogramming Voyager 2 to fix damaged memory, twisted magnetic field of Uranus, observations of the ring system, violent impacts in Uranian system including theories about Miranda's bizarre surface, origin of outer solar system bodies which may have tipped Uranus on its side.

editor's note -- Narrator is Patrick Stewart. Take that, other planets !!! Uranus has got Captain Picard.




Stand-up Comedian

"Only a polar bear that had lost its fur coat could stand the tropical temperatures on Pluto. Emperor penguins would head back to Uranus to chill out."


trivia - Twenty-Seven

the number of years since Voyager 2 passed the planet

the number of moons of Uranus

the atmosphere of Uranus is over 27 kilometers in scale height

Sailor Uranus- Sailor Moon Series

Warning to Men: Run for your lives !!! This is girly stuff.

editor's note -- You've heard of "a guy thing". Well this is "a gal thing". And as a bonus, she even deals with the pronunciation thing.






Haruka / Sailor Uranus' violin song

what the heck, something guys might like

(unless you prefer guitars and drum sets)

Man Or Astro-Man? U-Uranus

Dub Forrest "Rave Party on Uranus" EP

The Doctor really gets around



hard cover book



I don't have an image of the next book cover that HubPages would approve. Pixels too large.


hard cover book


Sheet Music


G. Schirmer Uranus (Score and Parts) Concert Band Level 4-5 Composed by Gustav Holst
G. Schirmer Uranus (Score and Parts) Concert Band Level 4-5 Composed by Gustav Holst

Score and Parts Band Grade Level 4-5 (Curnow)

Composer: Gustav Holst Arranger: James Curnow



The novels "Push towards Uranus" and "Position Oberon" in the Mark Brandis hard science fiction space opera book series have many allusions to seafaring. The novels take place on and around Uranus.

Terraforming: The Creating of Habitable Worlds (Astronomers' Universe)
Terraforming: The Creating of Habitable Worlds (Astronomers' Universe)

I will probably move this item over to one of my lenses on terraforming but I came across it while working on this lens.

Uranium West series
Uranium West series


The Olde West (Uranium West)
The Olde West (Uranium West)

This is a prequel to Uranium West.

Easterns, Westerns, and other flash fiction (Uranium West)
Easterns, Westerns, and other flash fiction (Uranium West)

This is the second prequel to Uranium West.


A Traveller 's Guide to Uranus

What would happen if you began to free-fall into the planet Uranus? You would die but it would be some really unique sightseeing !!!

You can see Uranus without a telescope with the naked eye.

- - Friends

Although you might prefer to have this encounter alone if you are comfortable in the wilderness, your other choice is to let an amateur astronomy group accompany you. Or a science teacher might want to bring his or her students. Scouts might want to invite their troop or pack. This is what is known as a star party. In the winter, you might want to bring creature comforts like hot food, blankets, and sleeping bags. [Use a non-luminous heat source. Do not light a campfire because a fire will blow all the dark adapt that you struggled to achieve.] In the summer, you might want to bring cold water, bug spray, and fold-up chairs. Always bring litter bags because you are not there to leave trash and garbage. You are there to see the Seventh Planet.


Who may do this: Anyone possessed of average eyesight. [If you are blind, there are astronomy programs for the blind. Ask the reference librarian at your public library for assistance in finding them.]

What: Just bring your eyes. No equipment wanted on your first encounter with the Seventh Planet. You can bring binoculars on your second encounter and bring a telescope on your third encounter. The etiquette for "star parties" is to turn off all light sources such as automobiles, flashlights, phones, laptop computers, and mobile devices. These gadgets will make you very, very unpopular with stargazers and amateur astronomers. They might even be so annoyed that they do nothing when wild dogs & wild cats, wolves, and mountain lions attack you -- so relieved will they be to be rid of you! Leave these gadgets at home. Seek the counseling of a psychiatrist for your gadget addiction (if the shrink can stop checking their messages long enough to treat you) or get into a 12-step program. The reason for all this light fear and loathing is to allow your eyes to dark adapt (adapt to the dark by widening your pupils). Also avoid bright sun light and avoid ultraviolet light in the days before your first encounter. Wear dark wraparound sunshades if you have to be out in the sun. You might even prepare a month ahead of time by eating food that is good for your eyes. Predictably this means carrots but also bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turkey, sweet potatoes, spinach, sardines and wild salmon.

When: Go late at night in the hours before and after midnight during dry weather, the lower the humidity the better. This sometimes means winter (and autumn) as summer sometimes brings haze which is bad for stargazing. But the climate where you are may be very different and Spring and Summer might have better viewing conditions. Consult the local weatherman or weather-girl or meteorologist of either gender. It also helps if the moon has not risen or has set or it is a new moon or a lunar eclipse.

Where: You only need a very dark sky such as in a desert or a national forest or way out in a rural area with no yard lights or light pollution from cities and suburbs.

Why: To see what all the fuss is about.

How: Any 1. planetarium director or 2. amateur astronomy club or 3. science teacher or 4. boy/girl scout working on their astronomy badge will be happy to tell you how to find Uranus in the night sky. A reference librarian will help you find a guide like these four.

Uranus: amazing but true

This is a photograph! This is not art nor simply a grey circle against a black background.

Most people saw this image and thought: "Forget this planet. Boring." As a result, Uranus has been ignored for the past quarter of a century. The reason that Uranus was not very photogenic was because Voyager 2 happened to race through at the wrong time for picking up detail. Like all planets, Uranus has seasons. Perhaps the question is: Did the probe fly in and out of the Uranine subsystem when Uranus was at its calmest? Probably. We would have to wait at least 84 Earth years to get a good look at various seasons there and then wait through several Uranus years to know for sure that the Uranus year we saw was typical. Earth has off years too -- though ours are caused by man-made climate change.

Almost as if the planet itself were alive, the planet's atmosphere started showing bands and lightning and aurorae and spots after Voyager 2 left but we had to be satisfied with seeing all this long distance with other instruments like the Hubble Telescope -- amazing in its own right.

Speaking of right, the only detail worth noting in this photograph is the terminator (line between day and night) that you might be able to see on the upper right of the disk of Uranus.

One note about the moons of Uranus: We have only seen one side of them. We can assume that the other side looks pretty much the same. But you know what they say about assuming. And Saturn has a moon whose eastern and western hemispheres look radically different from each other. Therefore, the other side of the Uranine moons may hold some surprises.

Uranus: amazing but true

This is also a photograph! Not space art nor astronomical art. And, obviously, no filters or photographic processing to produce false colour imagery in order to bring out detail. In fact, you have to let your eyes adjust to notice that there is detail in this photograph. In the upper left of the disk of Uranus, you may see a faint, barely noticeable streak. That is cloud or, to be more precise, clouds that probably indicate a storm. Congratulations, you now observe like a scientist.

The particular science here is planetary atmospheres. This is a field that is a hybrid of astronomy and meteorology (study of atmospheric phenomena). [The study of meteorites is a branch of geology]

I should note that this image comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Yes, despite the fact that NASA hogs all the attention, other government agencies also have telescopes and observatories and even satellites and probes. NOAA is interested in the atmospheres of other worlds because comparing different worlds enables learning what is the same about all atmospheres no matter where they are. It also enables scientists to be able to answer questions before some climate-change-denying jerk (usually in Congress) asks them. For example: What happens if a certain chemical builds up in the atmosphere? As an example, let's say the chemical is acetylene. You know, that stuff in very hot torches. It just so happens that the atmosphere of Titan has a fair percentage in its atmosphere. I know what you are thinking: What if someone lit a match on Titan? Would they set the whole moon on fire and become a crispy critter? Well the answer is that Titan has lightning like all worlds with thick atmospheres. If it has not burned up by now, then perhaps it is waiting for some fool from Earth to try the experiment.

Another reason for NOAA to be interested in space is that the operators of satellites ask them: What's the weather like up there? Space has weather of a sort -- solar wind, micro-meteoroid showers, magnetic storms, cosmic ray flux, gamma ray flux, and X-ray flux to name a few. An advanced multi-billion dollar communications satellite could be fried or smashed to pieces under the wrong conditions and so the telephone companies that own such satellites expect that since they pay taxes that they should get space weather bulletins. A cheap-o communications satellite has no chance in bad space weather and your cheap-o satellite phone will go dead. But an advanced satellite can be commanded by ground control operators to modify its orbit slightly to dodge a chunk of space junk or a rock. Or it might shut down during a bad event while communications are switched to backups (like agreements with other phone companies that have undersea cables, land lines, fiber optics and microwave relay towers) and then the satellite is switched back on after the event. [The satellite operator then probably owes the backups satellite minutes if their towers are knocked out by a hurricane or tornado or lightning or if their undersea cables are cut by a ship anchor or jackass oil drilling roughnecks or land lines are cut by construction digging or even an earthquake.]

It is even conceivable that NASA/JPL or the Russians or Europeans have a rover on Mars and might be willing to pay NOAA for Martian weather updates. In case you do not know, Mars has nasty planet-wide dust storms that eat rovers from Earth for breakfast. Check your favourite search engine for pictures of The Dust Bowl that certain American states experienced in the Nineteen- Thirties. If you are really unlucky, the climate change deniers will turn vast parts of Earth into desert and you will get to experience a dust storm instead of read about it in a book.

I have mentioned the practical reasons why NOAA is involved in space. There are also research reasons too.

I once took a tour of a NOAA facility and this is why I know about their space weather forecasting capability. If they miss forecasting a solar event, a lot of people yell at them. Not just satellite operators but land-based communications and air navigation and military systems and electric grid operators. While I am no friend of the fossil fuel industry (shut it down, make it illegal); I note that even oil and gas pipelines can be disrupted by what is going on in space. A magnetic storm can screw up flow meters. I am not saying that a pipeline could burst or explode (probably not) but the hydrocarbon industry does not seem to ever have damages or disaster under one billion dollars. In other words, space weather is a big deal for their industry too.

So what is NOAA's interest in the seventh planet? I don't know. My guess is what I said above.

Uranus: amazing but true

This is a photograph but a digital photograph. If you have ever seen a huge image file loading slowly pixel by pixel, block by block on your computer; then you have shared an experience with the people at Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a probe such as Voyager 2 sends back images in the form of compressed raw data sets prior to processing. You will note the six black dots in the disk of Uranus. If you look at the greyish black of space, then you will notice that the grid continues with dots in orderly arrangement there also.

I found this image at, of all places, the astro-geology section of the United States Geological Survey. Okay, some of you are thinking: "I get why NOAA is in space. They will get screamed at by rich and powerful people if they aren't. But why a bunch of rock hounds?"

First of all, the USGS does not have its own probes or its own telescopes of which I am aware. But they do collect meteoroids and rocks brought back from the moon and they archive geological data about the universe. When you need a map of another world, you come to these people. Google gets its lunar and Mars maps second hand from them. Astronomers name the features of the surface of planets, moons and asteroids but that information has to be applied and maps made.

I went to the Planetary Map Index page of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center to see how well they treated Uranus. Jupiter has 5 moons listed, Saturn has 6 moons listed, Uranus has 5 moons listed and Nepture 1 moon listed. Not bad. But why is the US Geological Survey making maps of anything besides the United States in the first place? There is a demand for them. I would imagine that this demand is a mix of professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, planetary scientists (a fancy way of saying astronomers and geologists) and other geologists at universities.

Besides maps, why else would the USGS be interested in the universe? The answer to this question is in the history of the agency. After the Louisiana Purchase, there was the Lewis & Clark Expedition which satisfied the needs of the country for awhile but after the Mexican-American War, more territory was added and a report from the National Academy of Sciences, prompted Congress to create the United States Geological Survey to classify and examine public lands and national domain for mineral resources. In other words, inventory. Let's see what we got when we bought it from the French and won it from Mexico.

For those with a long view, this probably sounds like prelude to war. NASA often acts and behaves like it owns heaven and even owns God. Is the USGS as grasping and grabby as NASA? I honestly don't think so.

The Bush Administration did its worst to politicize science and that foolishness could yet lead to the extinction of the human race. During the Bush years, geologists were subject to censorship whereas before and since they could speak their minds. Why should you care if a rock hound gives his honest scientific judgement instead of checking with the Republican Party first before speaking? Because you could get killed, that's why. The USGS is the agency with the responsibility for earthquake and volcano prediction. In Italy, which also has quakes and volcanoes, people died because a non-scientist intimidated the scientists working under his supervision. Scientists are sitting in an Italian prison for the bad judgement of a politician.

I think scientists should be protected by a shield law just like reporters should be protected by a shield law. Otherwise, we the people get killed when politicians screw up -- as they usually do. I also think that big rocks and asteroids potentially hitting the Earth is a responsibility that will probably end up with the USGS. Right now, Spaceguard is an informal effort by a couple of observatories.

So what does all this politics got to do with this boring picture of Uranus? Everything.

Now that you know that mineral exploration is part of the mix, you don't need to be a genius to guess that more than one mining company is looking at the Solar System. Geography is also part of the mission of the USGS and that includes places where the human race might want to put mining colonies and observatories. There is an old legal saying that possession is nine-tenths of the law. The only nations that will have an effective say in how territory is divvied up will be space-faring nations. Despite the wailing about cuts to NASA's budget, the USA is still very much a space-faring nation. It is just that North America is switching over to the private sector taking the lead faster than the private sector in Europe, Asia, South America and Oceania.

Private sector means corporations and consumers rather than government agencies and taxpayers footing the bill.

That said, I don't really see South African diamond mining companies headed to Uranus to monopolize the diamond industry. It would be interesting if I were wrong.

Uranus: amazing but true

Although this image is courtesy of NASA/JPL, it was found at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) page on the Solar System: Outer Planets - Uranus. Broadly speaking, the Navy's interest in space derives from navigation and aids to navigation. The very word navy derives from navigation.

Preeminent among aids to navigation is GPS. The Global Positioning System was developed and is operated the US Department of Defense. Since navy ships depend upon navigation, they are understandably concerned if their satellites (aids to navigation) are damaged.

Navy ships are also affected by weather. So they have a satellite called WindSat that measures sea surface wind speed, wind direction, temperature, and precipitation.

The Navy supported the design and construction of several instruments on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite because storms on the Sun send powerful disturbances to the Earth that damage Navy communication and power systems.

Extreme ultraviolet radiation affects orbital decay. This could cause the ozone layer to expand in the uppermost layer of the atmosphere (the exosphere) and that, in turn, causes a drag on satellites in low Earth orbit leading to them slowing and falling and burning up. The US Navy is picky about orbital decay of its satellites and prefers to predict this sort of decommissioning of its property. It even launched Starshine 2 and Starshine 3 which were satellites designed to improve the process.

Okay so the Navy has valid interests in space. You probably know that several astronauts have been Navy pilots. So why does the Navy look at stars? One of the first uses of astronomy from ancient times has been positioning and navigation. It also is used for correcting time and calendars.

As for the page on Uranus at the ONR, it exists because the Navy operates one of the oldest astronomical observatories in the nation. Established in 1830 as the Depot of Charts and Instruments, its primary function was the restoration, repair, and rating of navigational instruments. In 2013, its primary mission is to produce Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) for the U.S. Navy. However, because civilian students, volunteers and other individuals use it, the site is friendly to primary and secondary teachers. This gives it a public relations edge over the USGS because few elementary or high schools have geology but many have astronomy programs.

Educational only? Yes. Don't look for any warmongering here. I come from a military family and most warmongering comes from politicians who have never been in the military and therefore do not know how unpleasant war is. There is a page on submarines at this site and I can't help but think that experience with crush depth could come in handy when the lower atmosphere of Uranus is finally explored. There would be no liquid water oceans on Uranus but there may be oceans of liquid carbon if you can wrap your head around that (because carbon is an element that normally sublimes from solid to gas or undergoes deposition from gas to solid at standard temperatures and pressures). Except Uranus has extremely low temperatures and extremely high pressures.

Finally, the photograph of Uranus must have been chosen for being practically navy blue.

Uranus: amazing but true

Harvard College Observatory and Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory are both in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Together they form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. No, this photograph did not come from one of their observatories. It came from NASA.

Read the next module. We have not gotten to the amazing part yet.

Uranus: amazing but true

Data Source: National Air and Space Museum

Division: Center for Earth and Planetary Studies

These images of Uranus shows the varying appearance of the planet when photographed through the different color filters of the spacecraft's wide-angle camera. The images were taken January 23, 1986, from left to right through violet, orange, and methane filters. You will note that false colours have not been added yet. If you scroll way up this lens, then you will see one image that looks like Uranus is a weird eyeball staring back at us. [It would be amazing if it actually were.]

As you probably know, the National Air and Space Museum is part of the Smithsonian (the nation's attic) which in addition to operating all those huge museums in Washington DC also operates the Harvard-Smithsonian observatories. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scientists and engineers designed and built major instruments for the Chandra and Spitzer satellites.

In the past, astronomers submitted requests to book a night on a big telescope and they might book a night years in advance. If when your night arrived and it was cloudy, then you were screwed. Years of prep work down the drain and a career stalled.

In the present, big observatories use a service model rather than a time model. Instead of booking time, you now request specific observations and they do the work for you. The big telescopes are computerized and so efficient use of the instrument is made. A lot of medium and small scopes are also computerized.

Uranus: amazing but true

This grainy photograph was taken from Earth by the Very Large Telescope Observatory using the Adaptive Optics system NAOS. This is operated by the European Southern Observatory on a mountain in the Atacama Desert of Chile. Now this telescope is on a par with any big telescope on Mauna Kea such as the Keck. It is the most productive ground-based observatory, with only the Hubble generating more scientific papers among visible wavelength instruments.

In the future, big observatories like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will run 24/7/365 and astronomers will mine the yottabytes of data pouring down from outer space. What's a yottabyte? Only one septillion bytes. That's one followed by 24 zeros.

Uranus: amazing but true

This is from the Hubble, which is in space above the clouds and haze and smog and light pollution. If this is the best we can do, no wonder astronomers want to get an instrument closer to the planet.

Uranus: amazing but true

This planet has two public relations problems.

One is mispronunciation. People who think it is funny do not stop and think of the cost. A president will announce a flagship mission to any of the other planets in a State of the Union address to Congress but do you think any president (such as the mispronouncing President Bush) would ever subject himself to ridicule by even bringing up the subject? So the rest of the world will get the science on this planet if the big mission under consideration right now gets a go and green light by the European Space Agency and whatever other space agency collaborates with them when NASA cuts it from the budget and NASA is replaced by the space agency of a more mature nation that sees no humour in the name -- only infantile Americans.

The other public relations problem has just been dealt with -- the perception that the planet's atmosphere is boring. Maybe it is but only when we are looking. Physicists say that an observation is affected by the very act of observation. And we humans have a lot of observatories.

The Uranus Prophecy - (under construction)

This module will view the seventh planet through the lens of religion. Specifically, it will review eschatology and teleology concerning Planet Uranus.

The Uranus Code

(under construction)

This module will be about cryptography concerning Uranus. Since I do not have a team of analysts and mathematicians and code brakers to help me, you get to learn the virtue of patience because it could take a while.

Mysteries of Uranus - (under construction)

This module will take a forensic look at the Seventh Planet.

Riddles of the Uranian Subsystem - (under construction)


The Uranus Conspiracy - (under construction)

This module will deal with conspiracy theory. About Uranus of course.

While you are waiting for the module, you conspiracy theorists should recognize The Majestic 12 document Number 2. I will spare the sensitive ones the alien autopsy photographs, Area 51 and Hangar 18.

By the way, teen aged Air Force military brats once used Hangar 18 for a rave party. That's right, while you were sweating over what horrible secrets the government has and what conspiracies it is hatching with the aliens against you, those snotty nosed kids were puffing on joints. And since marijuana makes one forgetful, no breach of security concerns. The brass doubled the guard and so that doesn't happen any more.

I betcha there are pole dancers and lines of cocaine over at Area 51. It would explain test pilot blackouts while pulling extreme G's while testing craft that can make right angles without a curve and do other impossible maneuvers. After the Tailhook Scandal, I'd believe reports of any bad behavior from those guys.

The Uranus Treasure - (under construction)

This module will deal with exploration and treasure hunting in a rather unlikely place.

Not the Treasure Planet Disney Studios would envision but treasure nonetheless.

Buried treasure without the pirates and without the chest. Arr!

To Be Announced: Name of New Module Withheld for Now - (under Construction)

I can tell you that it concerns cartography and navigation. I hope that I will not need a Guild Navigator (those guys creep me out).

suggested projects for the first to settle the moons of Uranus

  • Build a city like the one in The Wizard of Oz and name it Emerald City. Maybe even have giant synthetic emeralds (crystals grown industrially) just for fun.
  • Use some of my ideas from my Uranium West series which is pretty much a treatise on terraforming the moons of Uranus.
  • Since everyone is scared away by juvenile and puerile American humour about the name of the planet, capitalize on that ignorance and figure out a way to make a profit here in the Uranine subsystem.

Emerald City

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