1. No, it’s not pronounced yer anus. Carl Sagan used to say it right: YOOR-a-nus. The Chinese name for the planet translates to sky king star.
2. Uranus is blue. The atmosphere is 83% hydrogen, 15% helium and 2% methane. That 2% methane absorbs red and makes the planet blue. The atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn are too hot to have that much methane, but Uranus’s cloud layer has a mean temperature of -350F.
3. Uranus lies on its side. The other planets spin on their axis perpendicular to the plane of orbit, with north and south poles where they should be. Uranus has a pole facing the sun. Astronomers debate over which pole is north. Uranus might have been knocked on its side by a collision with another planet long ago.
4. Unlike the other planets, whose moon names come from classical mythology – Phobos, Callisto, Atlas, Hyperion, Titan, etc. – Uranus’s 27 moons are named after characters from Shakespeare and Alexander Pope.
2002U2 and 2003U3 must be from Pope because they don’t sound like Shakespeare.
5. Unlike the other gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune, Uranus does not radiate more heat than it receives from the sun. The cause is unknown.
6. Although its poles receive more energy from the sun than its equater, Uranus’s equater is still hotter than the poles. The cause is unknown.
7. Like several other aspects of the planet, Uranus’s magnetosphere is unique in our solar system. It corkscrews behind the planet. Radio signals are hard to detect from Uranus, which indicates that the magnetosphere might be almost empty.
8. Uranus’s rings wobble.