How Many Rings Does Uranus Have


How many rings does Uranus have? Seventh rock from the sun, Uranus is an icy planet with 13 known rings.  Uranus’ rings were discovered in 1977. This discovery came so late because the planet wasn’t visible without the telescope.

Uranus rotates tilted on its axis so that the rings are correspondingly tilted compared to those of Saturn. The Uranian rings were discovered after those around Saturn.  This is important because it was thought that Saturn’s rings were a peculiar feature of that planet.  Following the discovery of rings around Uranus it became clear that this phenomenon was common to the gas planets, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus and Saturn.

The Rings of Uranus

The first images of the rings were taken in 1982 byVoyager 2.  At that time it was thought that there were only 11 rings.  The last two outer rings were found by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2005. The ring named Epsilon is some 96 km wide and has a blue tint.  Scientists theorize that this may be caused by ice forming on the particles within the ring.

The narrowest ring is Eta, which is only 1 km wide.  Eta is a more typical planetary ring in terms of its composition and size than its larger brother Epsilon.

Although Uranus was discovered in 1781, scientists are still discovering information about the planet and its rings.  It appears that the rings did not form at the time of planets formation.  This suggests that the rings may be composed of material other than planetary material.  Typical material found in the rings consists of rock and dust particles from a millimeter in size up to a meter in diameter.

Uranus itself is an impressive planet being four times bigger than Earth and glowing blue in the telescope lens.  The distinctive color comes from methane in the planet’s atmosphere that absorbs red light. The planet takes 84 Earth years to orbit the sun but the days are short and the atmosphere is hostile to life forms that we are familiar with.

Uranus was named after the ancient Greek god of the sky and husband of Gaia who was goddess of the earth.  Looking back with our modern viewpoint there might be social conclusions drawn from the naming of a large cold planet as husband and a small warm planet as wife.

Uranus also inspired the naming of the chemical element Uranium (discovered eight years after the planet discovery) by a German chemist.  This element has a bad fortune to be associated with a negative image, in this case with war. However, there is no doubt about how interesting and amazing this planet is. There are still many mysteries about Uranus.

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