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  Uranus: Astronomy: Uranus
Posted on Saturday, December 11 @ 01:20:35 CST by astronomy


This distant, blue-green planet is something of a mystery. Even after Voyager 2's flyby in 1986, there remains great deal for future astronomers to discover.

Uranus's brightness comes just within reach of the naked eye, and it was mistaken for a star many times before it was finally discovered.

The first recorded sighting was made in 1690 by England's Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, who cataloged it as 34 Tauri. Another observer, Pierre Lemonnier, logged Uranus as a star a total of 12 times—6 of those over one 9-day period in 1769. These early records later helped to establish the planet's orbit.

When William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781, he initially thought it was "either a nebulous star or perhaps a comet." He soon confirmed, however, that the 6th magnitude object was a planet, circling the Sun every 84 years. It was named Uranus after the Greco-Roman god who personified the universe and was the father of Saturn.

Being so distant, little was learned about Uranus until well into the twentieth century. Much of our current understanding came from the Voyager 2 flyby in 1986.




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