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Discovered on March 13, 1781 by William Herschel, Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun in our solar system. Although this planet is too far away to be seen without a telescope it is encircled with nine rings which were discovered in 1977. Each ring is only a few miles across and not completely round. The widest one is the outer ring which is about 13 miles. During the Voyager space flights it was discovered that two additional rings surrounded Uranus bringing the total to nine.

Considered a strange planet because it rotates on its side with its equator making almost a right angle to the plane of its orbit around the sun, Uranus poles lie close to the plane of its orbit causing the planets north pole to point toward the sun for 42 years and then into darkness for 42 years. Since Uranus is tilted on its side this causes its rings to appear to be vertical. The planet has a diameter of 32,116 miles and orbits the sun at a distance of 1,736 million miles every 84 years. It's atmosphere is made up largely of methane gas which gives the planet a greenish glow.

Until the Voyager made its probe in space Uranus was known to have five moons. These moons are Miranda, Oberon, Titania, Umbriel and Ariel. But ten small new moons were discovered within the orbit of Miranda. Uranus moons were named from Shakespeare plays and a poem written by Alexander Pope. All five are approximately 50% denser than water showing that some type of ice is present. This ice is believed to be either methane, ammonia, frozen water or other types of compounds. All of the moons are dark gray in color which leads scientist to believe they could be covered with carbon soot or graphite. Uuranus is now believed to have 20 moons - 5 more were found; 2 in 1997 and 3 in 1999. They were discovered by astronomers using earth based telescopes.