Like the other outer planets, Uranus has a massive atmosphere with a composition similar to that of the Sun and other stars. Scientists think it is roughly three quarters hydrogen and a quarter helium by mass, plus a small amount of methane and probably trace amounts of water, ammonia, and other substances.


Maskelyne asked Herschel to "do the astronomical world the faver [sic] to give a name to your planet, which is entirely your own, [and] which we are so much obliged to you for the discovery of".[32] In response to Maskelyne's request, Herschel decided to name the object Georgium Sidus (George's Star), or the "Georgian Planet" in honour of his new patron, King George III.[33] He explained this decision in a letter to Joseph Banks:[30]

In the fabulous ages of ancient times the appellations of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were given to the Planets, as being the names of their principal heroes and divinities. In the present more philosophical era it would hardly be allowable to have recourse to the same method and call it Juno, Pallas, Apollo or Minerva, for a name to our new heavenly body. The first consideration of any particular event, or remarkable incident, seems to be its chronology: if in any future age it should be asked, when this last-found Planet was discovered? It would be a very satisfactory answer to say, 'In the reign of King George the Third'.

William Herschel, discoverer of Uranus

Herschel's proposed name was not popular outside of Britain, and alternatives were soon proposed. Astronomer Jérôme Lalande proposed that it be named Herschel in honour of its discoverer.[34] Swedish astronomer Erik Prosperin proposed the name Neptune, which was supported by other astronomers who liked the idea to commemorate the victories of the British Royal Naval fleet in the course of the American Revolutionary War by calling the new planet even Neptune George III or Neptune Great Britain.[27] Bode opted for Uranus, the Latinized version of the Greek god of the sky, Ouranos. Bode argued that just as Saturn was the father of Jupiter, the new planet should be named after the father of Saturn.[31][35][36]In 1789, Bode's Royal Academy colleague Martin Klaproth named his newly discovered element "uranium" in support of Bode's choice.[37] Ultimately, Bode's suggestion became the most widely used, and became universal in 1850 when HM Nautical Almanac Office, the final holdout, switched from using Georgium Sidus to Uranus.[


Uranus is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus (Ancient Greek: Οὐρανός), the father of Cronus (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter), which in Latin became "Ūranus".[1] It is the only planet whose name is derived from a figure from Greek mythology rather than Roman mythology. The adjective of Uranus is "Uranian".[38] The pronunciation of the name Uranus preferred among astronomers is /ˈjʊərənəs/ ewr-ə-nəs,[2] with stress on the first syllable as in Latin Ūranus, in contrast to the colloquial /jʊˈrnəs/ ew-ray-nəs, with stress on the second syllable and a long a, though both are considered acceptable.[e]

Uranus has two astronomical symbols. The first to be proposed, ♅,[f] was suggested by Lalande in 1784. In a letter to Herschel, Lalande described it as "un globe surmonté par la première lettre de votre nom" ("a globe surmounted by the first letter of your surname").[34] A later proposal, ⛢,[g] is a hybrid of the symbols for Mars and the Sun because Uranus was the Sky in Greek mythology, which was thought to be dominated by the combined powers of the Sun and Mars.[40] In the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese languages, its name is literally translated as the sky king star

Uranus Facts

Uranus likes to be a bit different. It shows off a majestic blue/green haze due to its high levels of methane gas and rolls like a barrel rather than spinning like Earth and the other planets in our Solar System.

  • Uranus spins lying on its side (like a barrel), this is perhaps due to a large collision early in its formation.
  • Uranus was the first planet discovered by telescope.
  • Since Uranus takes 84 Earth years to go around the sun, this means that each of its poles is in daylight for 42 years and in darkness for the next 42.
  • Uranus’s atmosphere is mostly hydrogen but it also contains large amounts of a gas called methane. Methane absorbs red light and scatters blue light so a blue-green methane haze hides the interior of the planet from view.
  • Uranus hides its interior but scientists guess that under the hydrogen-methane atmosphere is a hot, slushy ocean of water, ammonia and methane thousands of miles deep wrapped around a rocky core.