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Rings Around Uranus

Distant Ringed Uranus

Distant Ringed Uranus

This ghostly image was taken by a Chilean ground-based telescope in 2002. It shows the enigmatic gas giant Uranus in near-infrared light, 7 of its 27 known moons visible. (For a labeled version of this image noting the moons, click here.)

Seventh planet from the sun, Uranus’ year is 84 Earth-years long. Like the other gas giants, Uranus has rings – thirteen, at last count. What makes Uranus especially different among the planets is its unique axial tilt…the entire planet, rings and all, is tipped nearly horizontal along its orbital plane. It’s as if it were “lying down”.

More recently on August 17, 2007 the Hubble Space Telescope captured a photo of Uranus with its rings angled edge-on to Earth. This viewpoint is only possible once every 42 years.

Uranus is approximately 4 times larger than Earth in diameter.

Image: European Southern Observatory

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About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on July 2, 2009, in Uranus and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Uranus is about 63 times larger than Earth. The 4 times figure is for the radius, but volume grows at a power of 3 of that…

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    • If you look at the size comparison of the two worlds, Uranus is 4 times the size of Earth… not 63: https://lightsinthedark.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5000

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      • You could fit 63 Earths inside Uranus and have room to spare, so Uranus is definitely more than 4 times the size of Earth. You could also unwrap Earth’s seas and continents, and have room for 16 such Earth maps on Uranus’ surface. The diameter of Uranus is indeed 4x Earth’s but that isn’t its size.

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        • All right. There are different ways of looking at this, obviously. In diameter, Uranus is 4 times wider than Earth. In mass, it’s 14.5 times Earth’s (obviously much less dense.) And in volume, 63 Earths can fit within the 3-dimensional area of Uranus. All are correct, depending on the characteristic you’re looking for. It’s like if I described my size as my height (as many people do) or my weight, both are right but neither is the “whole picture.”

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