Zooming Around with Zoe: Weather on Uranus


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Uranus was originally thought to be a pretty boring planet. But, the Hubble Space telescope found it to be filled with dynamic weather and the brightest cloud tops in the outer solar system.

Uranus was the first planet found using a telescope and the last which can be seen with the naked eye. Its atmosphere is composed of hydrogen and helium, but a small amount of methane produces its blue color.

You might notice something strange about Uranus. It spins in the opposite direction as Earth, just like Venus, but it’s the only planet that spins completely on its side, orbiting the sun like a rolling ball. This makes for very odd seasons.

The poles experience 21 years of nighttime in winter, 21 years of daytime in the summer and 42 years of both in the spring and fall. When the dark side finally feels the heat of the sun after decades, it quickly warms and causes huge violent storms.

Even though the poles receive direct sunlight, temperatures at the equator are warmer, and scientists don’t know why. Average surface temperatures are around -300 degrees F, but can dip down to -370, making it colder than Neptune in some locations.

Wind speeds can reach over 560 mph. Near the poles, winds blow in the same direction as the planet’s spin, but at the equator, winds blow in the opposite direction as its rotation.

You can now see for yourself that Uranus is anything but dull, teeming with activity, but much too extreme to host life as we know it.

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