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Autumn on Uranus

0712Uranus.jpgUranus is at its equinox December 7, meaning the Sun will be shining directly on its equator. Uranus tilts dramatically (98 degrees) on its rotational axis, while the Earth's tilt is a mere 23 degrees—so while Autumn for the Earth's northern hemisphere runs from Sept. 22 through Dec. 21, "Autumn" in Uranus' southern hemisphere begins December 7 and lasts until, well, 2028. At that point, its south pole will be facing almost completely away from the Sun. Uranus' last equinox was in 1965 and the next one will not be until 2049.

The long read on what can be gained from observing the equinox: Uranus nears Equinox (PDF) from a meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG)

Uranus, found by Sir William Herschel in 1781, was the first planet discovered using a telescope. Herschel originally named it Georgium Sidus (George's Star) after his patron, King George III. It wasn't until later that Johann Bode recommended that it be named after the father of the Titans in Roman mythology, much to the joy of bored students everywhere.

Uranus profile and news (The Planetary Society Weblog)
Happy Uranian Equinox, a once-in-a-half-lifetime event (Science Blog)
Seasons on Uranus (American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium)

Keck II composite image of Uranus taken on May 28, 2007 using two different types of infrared light. Credit: W. M. Keck Observatory (Marcos van Dam)


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