Once considered one of the blander-looking planets, Uranus (pronounced
YOOR un nus) has been revealed as a dynamic world with
some of the brightest clouds in the outer solar system and 11 rings. Uranus gets its
blue-green color from methane gas above the deeper cloud layers
(methane absorbs red light and reflects blue light).
Uranus was discovered in 1781 by astronomer William Herschel, who
at first believed it to be a comet
. This seventh planet from the Sun is so
distant that it takes 84 years to complete an orbit.
Uranus is classified as a
"gas giant" planet because it has no solid surface. The atmosphere of
Uranus is hydrogen and helium, with a small amount of methane and
traces of water and ammonia. The bulk (80 percent or more) of the
mass of Uranus is contained in an extended liquid core consisting primarily
of "icy" materials (water, methane, and ammonia), with higher-density
material at depth.
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