The Solar System

How many moons does Uranus have?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. Thanks to gravity, really big things draw into their orbit lots of smaller things, and Uranus is no exception. It has at least 27 moons, which come in many varieties. Some are rocky, some are icy and some are a combination of both ice and rock. Miranda, perhaps Uranus's tiniest moon at 300 miles (483 kilometers) in diameter, has several perplexing features, including many fractures on its surface and a cliff that reaches more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) into the sky. In comparison, the highest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, is only about half as high.

    Among Uranus's moons, Ariel may well be the most recently formed. It's pockmarked with lots of small craters, a badge of honor for surviving many small collisions with the aimless cosmic rocks adrift in the universe. And, completing the chaotic scene around Uranus, a small cluster of satellites somehow manages to be very tightly clumped yet none of its members collide with each other NASA.

    Another cool fact about Uranus's moons concerns their names. The vast majority are named for characters created by the bard, William Shakespeare. Names such as Puck, Portia and Desdemona are among the roster of names for the planet's moons.

    Though for some wags it is unfortunately named, Uranus nonetheless has a stellar resume. Named for an ancient Greek deity, it's the third-largest planet in our solar system -- 31,763 miles (51,118 kilometers) in diameter -- and is situated between Saturn and Neptune, making it the seventh planet in distance from the sun, some 2.8 billion kilometers (19.19 astronomical units) away. For many years, those who observed Uranus considered it to be a star. In 1781, an astronomer named Sir William Herschel categorized it as a planet for the first time and identified two of its moons. Ice and hydrogen surround the planet's rocky core. The methane gas (approximately 2 percent) present in Uranus's atmosphere causes it to appear a dazzling blue-green color when viewed through a telescope.

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