Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and is the third largest in the solar system. It was discovered by William Herschel in 1781. It has an equatorial diameter of 51,800 kilometers (32,190 miles) and orbits the Sun once every 84.01 Earth years. It has a mean distance from the Sun of 2.87 milliard kilometers (1.78 milliard miles). The length of a day on Uranus is 17 hours 14 minutes. Uranus has at least 22 moons. The two largest moons, Titania and Oberon, were discovered by William Herschel in 1787.
The atmosphere of Uranus is composed of 83% hydrogen, 15% helium, 2% methane and small amounts of acetylene and other hydrocarbons. Methane in the upper atmosphere absorbs red light, giving Uranus its blue-green color. The atmosphere is arranged into clouds running at constant latitudes, similar to the orientation of the more vivid latitudinal bands seen on Jupiter and Saturn. Winds at mid-latitudes on Uranus blow in the direction of the planet's rotation. These winds blow at velocities of 40 to 160 meters per second (90 to 360 miles per hour). Radio science experiments found winds of about 100 meters per second blowing in the opposite direction at the equator.
Uranus is distinguished by the fact that it is tipped on its side. Its unusual position is thought to be the result of a collision with a planet-sized body early in the solar system's history.
Source and more: Views of the Solar System
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October 23, 2003 20:25 UT [re-processed on June 30, 2004].
True distance: 19.5319312 AU (2922 million km).
October 23, 2003 20:25 UT [original version].