William Herschel - John Couch Adams - The Universe TV - Carl Sagan TV - Solar Empire: A Star is Born TV - Horizon TV - Cosmic Collisions TV - Storyville: Farthest: Voyager’s Interstellar Journey TV - Brian Cox TV -
I cannot but wish to take this opportunity of expressing my sense of gratitude, by giving the name of Georgium Sidus ... to a star which (with respect to us) first began to shine under His auspicious reign. William Herschel, 1783
Formed a design at the beginning of this week of investigating, as soon as possible after taking my degree, the irregularities in the motion of Uranus which are yet unaccounted for; in order to find whether they may be attributed to the action of an undiscovered planet beyond it; and if possible, thence to determine the elements of its orbit, etc., approximately which would probably lead to its discovery [Neptune]. John Couch Adams, Journal of Society of Engineers, 1893
In the distant corners of our Solar System are the violent ice giants Uranus and Neptune. Blanketed with smoky hazes these outer planets are turbulent and unpredictable. Neptune suffers the fastest winds in our solar system ... Uranus’s inner swarm of moons dash around the planet in less than a day. The Universe s1e11: The Outer Planets, History 2007
Uranus seems to be relatively calm. ibid.
Herschel first laid eyes on Uranus through a telescope. ibid.
Five planetary rings: features that had only previously been seen on Saturn. ibid.
Voyager II reached Uranus early in 1986. It was nine years since it had left the Earth. Uranus is coloured blue because the atmosphere contains traces of methane – it’s a featureless cold world. But Uranus is different from all the rest. It rolls around the Sun spinning on its side, possible because of a giant impact in its early life. Uranus is encircled by eleven incredibly thin rings of ice and dust. Universe s2e1: Alien Planets
The rings of Uranus were first discovered in 1977. Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, Cosmos: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean, PBS 1980
In Bath, England, William Herschel discovered a new planet. Wishing to curry favour he tried to name it George’s Star after the king, but the idea didn’t go down well with other astronomers. The new planet was dubbed Uranus instead. Like Saturn it has rings – less impressive in appearance but more spectacular in formation. Solar Empire: A Star is Born, National Geographic 1997
What Herschel found in 1781 was Uranus. For two hundred years all we could learn from our telescope were the size, the tilt and the composition of the planet. But with Voyager II in 1986 came the first ever chance to get a close look at the planet ... What Voyager did see is the rings. ibid.
Herschel had discovered a new planet: we now call it Uranus. Two hundred years later we still know almost nothing about it. It is nearly two billion miles from Earth and tipped on its side. Five dark moons circle the planet. Horizon: Uranus Encounter, BBC 1986
Voyager II: this unmanned little space-craft would fly within fifty thousand miles of this planet in January 1986. ibid.
Uranus is remarkably featureless. A five-thousand-mile thick gaseous atmosphere enshrouds the planet. ibid.
By shining a radio beam through the rings back to Earth Voyager discovered that the boulders that make up the rings are about a yard across. Tiny specks of dust are being ground off these rocks and orbit the planet between the well-defined rings as they spiral down into the planet itself. In a few hundred million years these rings will have worn away to nothing. ibid.
As it emitted its radiations it changed into Thorium and so on through Radium and Radon in a chain that only stopped with Lead. But no-one was prepared for the discovery in 1938 that if you bombarded the Uranium atom with a neutron you could break it into two. ibid.
Compared to the other planets in the solar system, Uranus seems less remarkable. Initially dismissed as a star, it was eventually recognised as a planet in the late eighteenth century. Known as one of the ice giants, Uranus is small compared to its gas giants neighbours Jupiter and Saturn. Cosmic Collisions: Solar System, Discovery 2009
It’s tipped on its side. For years this strange alignment baffled astronomers. ibid.
‘Now it’s five years of cruising out to Uranus’ [from Jupiter] ... ‘so remote it’s not even known until 200 years ago.’ Storyville: The Farthest: Voyager’s Interstellar Journey, BBC 2018
In January 1986 Voyager II arrived at Uranus, 1.8 billion miles from Earth. At closest approach, it flew just 51,000 miles above Uranus’ cloud tops. ibid.
Far far away beyond Mars, past the storms of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn, conditions become very different. Temperatures plummet and distances between worlds are measured not in millions but in billions of kilometres. Here lies the most mysterious planets of them all. Uranus: a pale blue marble hanging in the dark frozen depths of space. And further out, the solar system’s final true planet: Neptune. Beyond, we thought we’d only ever find tiny lifeless worlds frozen to the core. How wrong we were. Brian Cox, The Planets V: Into the Darkness: Ice Worlds, BBC 2019
Uranus: 2.9 billion kilometres from the sun. Just like Jupiter and Saturn, the planet’s upper atmosphere is composed mostly of swirling hydrogen and helium gas. And hidden beneath, lies an exotic icy mix of methane, ammonia and water. But unlike the other gas giants, Uranus is almost featureless. ibid.
Just like Saturn, Uranus has rings. ibid.