Everyday Astronomy Uranus July 11 and 12

Download lesson:  Uranus ~ Day Nine


Download lesson: Stellar Pie-Uranus~ Day Ten

Think for a moment about the North and South poles of our planet.  Are they hot or cold?  What have the poles been like on most of the planets we have studied?  Thinking about the way the planet faces, what temperature do you think the poles of Uranus are? Do you think they are hot or cold?

If you said they were hot, you would be mostly correct, because it is hard for a planet that has had a record low temperature of -371० F to be hot.  The poles of Uranus do absorb a great deal of energy from their continual facing toward the Sun, the equator of the planet is hotter than its poles are.  Astronomers are still not sure why this is the case, they are studying the data sent back from many space missions to see if they can find the answer.

Have you ever wondered how do you determine which pole is North and which is South for a planet that is lying on its side?  Well, when the Voyager mission flew by in 1986, scientists labeled the pole that was directly facing Voyager, the South Pole.  To avoid confusion, astronomers across the globe have adopted this label.  This follows the rules that are set by the International Astronomical Union which says a planet’s North Pole shall be the one that is above the plane of the Solar System, no matter which direction the planet spins.

Today’s Activity: Tomorrow we will have a great new recipe to try.  Here are the ingredients you will need to make Stellar Pie. Ask if you can gather them so you are ready for tomorrow’s Friday Fun Day!

1 graham cracker pie crust

6 oz. frozen whipped topping

8 oz. cream cheese

¼ c. blueberry syrup

1/8 c. juice from crushed blueberries (optional)

Fresh blueberries (optional)

Everyday Astronomy Uranus July 10

Download lesson:  Uranus ~ Day Eight

For as quickly as Uranus spins on its axis each day, it takes quite a long time to orbit the Sun.  It takes Uranus eighty-four Earth years to orbit the Sun one time.

There is only one place on the whole planet that has a day and night cycle like we have on Earth. That place would be a narrow band around Uranus’ equator.

Since Uranus is on its “side” its poles are what face the Sun. As the planet orbits around the Sun, each pol is exposed to forty-two years of continuous sunshine, while its opposite pole receives forty-two years of darkness.

Today’s Activity: What parts of our own planet have much longer day and night cycles than other places?  Why is that so?

Everyday Astronomy Uranus July 8

Download lesson:  Uranus ~ Day Seven

When you were looking through the pictures of Uranus, did you happen to make any interesting observations of the planet? If you cannot remember anything specific, you may want to go back and look at some pictures again, and compare Uranus to Saturn.

What do you see? Does Uranus appear to be on its side?  If you thought that, you are very observant!

Uranus has the deepest axial tilt of any of the planets.  Its tilt is at 97.77 degrees. This puts it on nearly the same plane as the solar system. Most planets have a much narrower axis and spin something like a top. Uranus’ axis causes it to spin more like a ball rolling along the floor.

Uranus spins rather quickly. It completes one full rotation every 17 hours and 14 minutes. (Earth time)

Today’s Activity: Study the tilt of Uranus by finding a top, and a ball.  Spin the top to see how most of the planets in the Solar System rotate on their axis. Roll the ball across the floor to better see the way that Uranus spins on its axis.