It is the only planet whose name is derived from a figure from Greek mythology rather than Roman mythology like the other planets, from the Latinized version of the Greek god of the sky, Ouranos. Like the other gas giants, Uranus has a ring system, a magnetosphere, and numerous moons. The Uranian system has a unique configuration among the planets because its axis of rotation is tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its revolution about the Sun. Its north and south poles therefore lie where most other planets have their equators. In 1986, images from Voyager 2 showed Uranus as a virtually featureless planet in visible light without the cloud bands or storms associated with the other giants. Terrestrial observers have seen signs of seasonal change and increased weather activity in recent years as Uranus approached its equinox. The wind speeds on Uranus can reach 250 meters per second (900 km/h, 560 mph).
Uranus presented a featureless disk to Voyager 2 in 1986. Its appearance reflects the presence of a high-altitude hydrocarbon photochemical haze overlying clouds of methane, which in turn overlie clouds of hydrogen sulfide and/or ammonia (below these are additional unseen cloud decks of different compositions). The blue-green coloration results from the absorption bands of methane.
Discovered by William Herschel
Discovery date March 13, 1781
Pronunciation Listeni/ˈjʊərənəs/ or Listeni/jʊˈreɪnəs/