Uranus; Magnificent Cosmos; Scientific American Presents; by Staff Editor; 2 Page(s)
Strange even by the standards of the far reaches of the solar system, Uranus is an almost featureless, bluegreen planet that has the distinction of being knocked on its side. Its axis of rotation points 98 degrees away from its orbital axis. This unique tilt most likely testifies to a massive collision while the planet was still forming. Adding to its peculiarity, Uranus's magnetic field is also tilted, 59 degrees from the rotation axis. Finally, the planet rotates in the opposite direction that Earth does. Although greatly enhanced images from Voyager 2's visit in 1986 reveal bands like those on Saturn and Jupiter, the planet seems to be far more placid than its stormy gas giant comrades. Uranus maintains their custom, however, of accompaniment by rings and numerous satellites.
Ten small moons were discovered by Voyager in 1986. Nine rings were found in 1977 during stellar occultations; two more have been found since.