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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Uranus has rings too?

This Day in History: March 10, 1977
Poor Uranus. Besides having a name guaranteed to make 12-year-old-boys giggle, to most people it lacks any sort of interest. It isn’t huge, like Jupiter, or bright, like Venus, or shine with a striking red color, like Mars. It doesn’t have giant glorious rings like Saturn… but it does have rings, and sometimes they can be pretty cool too.
Source: Yes, yes, rings around Uranus, haha

Uranus presented a featureless disk
to Voyager 2 in 1986.
en.wikipedia.org
What do you see on a starry, starry night? Do you count the stars, try to distinguish a planet from a star, look for a wink from the man in the moon, wait patiently for a shooting star to streak across the night sky? 

For centuries, all that was known about the night sky was solely dependent upon the naked eye. Then, in the early 1600s, Galileo Galilei used the telescope for purposes of astronomy. This set the stage for exploration far beyond Galileo's expectations or imagination. The door to the night sky opened!

Uranus. Image credit: Hubble
On March 13, in 1781, Sir William Herschel observed Uranus, initially reporting it as a comet. Through a series of observations from Herschel, as well as other astronomers, it was finally accepted in 1783 as a Primary Planet of our Solar System. William Herschel described a possible ring around Uranus in 1789, which at that time was doubted.

Uranus has a complicated planetary ring system,
which was the second such system to be
discovered in the Solar System after Saturn's.
en.wikipedia.org
On this day, March 10, 1977, the ring system was definitively discovered or perhaps better stated, confirmed. Hard to imagine it was first sighted nearly two centuries ago. Better still, the fact it was sighted that long ago is phenomenal. Since that time through the expanding changes in space technology, the total number of distinct Uranian rings has been identified as 13. The rings are composed of extremely dark particles, unlike the rings of Saturn, which are very bright and composed of water ice. Instead of even being made of dust, they contain larger chunks qualified as boulders, which vary in size from micrometers to a fraction of a meter.


Uranus revolves around the Sun once every 84 Earth years.
Its average distance from the Sun is roughly 3 billion km (about 20 AU)