Sciencey Words: Uranus

As we continue our voyage through the Solar System, we now reach a planet that has become the butt of far too many childish jokes.

Oc01 Presenting Uranus

I’ve sort of been dreading this. Uranus is the first planet discovered in modern times. It’s only been visited by a spacecraft once. It’s colder than it should be, the atmosphere is oddly featureless (at least in visible light), and some of its moons are pretty strange. Also, Uranus is spinning sideways for some reason.

But it’s hard to take any of that seriously because… well… you know why.

In fact, I rarely if ever hear about new discoveries on or concerning Uranus. Part of the reason is that Uranus is so far away and so difficult to observe; however, Neptune is even farther, and I do occasionally hear about new discoveries there.

I sometimes wonder if astronomers are deliberately avoiding this area of research. I mean, nobody wants to be the guy who probes Uranus for a living.

So how did the seventh planet from the Sun get this embarrassing name? The story, as it turns out, is really interesting.


So what do you think of Uranus’s name? Would you have preferred Herschel or Georgium Sidus or some other possibility?

3 Responses to Sciencey Words: Uranus

  1. I think the name “Uranus” is fine. Naming it after an ancient sky god fits in well with the other planets.

    In recent years, I’ve become defiant about using the yoo-RAIN-us pronunciation. People snicker, particularly since that defiance leads me to put extra emphasis on the middle syllable, but then we move on with whatever discussion we were having.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. daniel says:

    its pronounced your-a-nus

    Liked by 1 person

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