Who Discovered Uranus

The 7th planet in our Solar System, Uranus, was also the first to be discovered after the invention of the telescope. Even though the planet is quite dim, it is visible to the naked eye during clear skies. Sir William Herschel accidently discovered Uranus on March 13, 1781. Before Herschel, nobody had any official records of the planet. Therefore, he is the original discoverer. He used his strong home-made telescope to observe a region in the sky that was in the constellation of Taurus, but later he noticed it was quite large for a star. At first, he recorded a discovery of a faint object that he speculated to be a nebulous star or perhaps a comet. Herschel was almost so certain that the object was a comet that he presented it as a comet to the Royal Society. By doing this, he found out from the Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, that the object lacked a tail and orbited around the Sun like the rest of the planets. This discovery impressed King George III of England so tremendously that he rewarded Herschel a yearly stipend of 200 pounds. As a form of respect to the king, Herschel originally wanted to name the new found planet, �George�s Star.� However, the international astronomy community pushed more for Uranus, a Greek name, while the rest of the planets were named after Roman gods. Other than the Astronomer Royal, other astronomers contributed in the conclusion of Uranus being a planet rather than a star. Anders Johan Lexell, a Russian astronomer, was first to calculate the orbit of the object. The new object�s almost circular orbit is what allowed him to conclude that it was a planet after all.

Moreover, about a century earlier, there was another person who had documented the observation of Uranus. This man was John Flamsteed. From 1750-1769, Pierre Lemonnier, a French astronomer, observed the planet many times as well. They both thought that the object was a star. Therefore, they are not accounted for as the original discoverers of the planet because they were not the ones to recognize it as a planet. Furthermore, better details about Uranus were more observable over time as higher quality telescopes were invented. In 1986, the first and only spacecraft from Earth so far was able to land on Uranus. This spacecraft was NASA�s Voyager 2 that flew within 81,500 km of Uranus�s cloud tops. During this voyage, NASA discovered 10 new moons and 2 new rings around the planet.





Twitter | Facebook | Contact Us | Terms of Use