Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognized as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit. It was the first planet to be discovered in modern history. It was discovered in 1781 by Sir William Herschel (Encyclopedia: Uranus (planet)) and expanded the known boundaries of the Solar System for the first time in modern history. Uranus was also the first planet discovered with a telescope.
Uranus had been observed many times before it was discovered as a planet, but it was generally mistaken for a star. On March 13, 1781, Sir William Herschel observed the planet from his home in Somerset, England using a reflecting telescope that he designed and built himself (Uranus (2), 2009). He initially reported it as a comet, but also compared it to a planet. He notified astronomers who also started observing the planet. After observing it for a while, they noticed it did not have any coma or tail to it, and eventually noticed it’s nearly circular orbit that led them to the conclusion that it was a planet rather than a comet.
Herschel originally named the planet Georgium Sidus, or George’s Star in honor of King George III (Encyclopedia: Uranus (planet)). However, this name was not very popular outside of Britain and soon people started volunteering alternative names. Some thought it should be called Herschel after the man who discovered it, and others thought Neptune was a good name for it. Finally, the name Uranus was suggested. Uranus is the Latinized version of the Greek god of the sky, Ouranos. This name was fitting because just as Saturn was the father of Jupiter, the new planet should be named after the father of Saturn.
Although Uranus is not the farthest planet from the Sun, it is the coldest planet in the Solar System. The surface...