How Long Is Winter On Uranus?

A 3D rendering of Uranus.

Uranus is one of the three giant planets of the solar system and is the seventh planet from the sun. The atmosphere of Uranus is made of hydrogen and helium and is the coldest in the solar system reaching a minimum temperature of 49K. In addition to being a giant planet, it has a ring system, a magnetosphere, and several moons. Uranus appears to have a bluish color which results from the absorption of red light by methane in the atmosphere.

Length Of Winters In Uranus

It takes 84 earthly years for Uranus to go round the sun. Each season in Uranus takes 21 years. The variation in seasons in Uranus is a result of the axial tilting which is at 98 degrees making it almost parallel to the orbital plane. As a result, the seasons in Uranus vary greatly from other planets in the solar system. The rotational axis tilt of Uranus means that the sun shines directly on each pole, leaving the other half of the planet covered in darkness.

This sideways tilt of the rotational axis is responsible for the extremely long winters-summers, autumn-springs. A winter season in Uranus lasts for 21 years. Just like earth, Uranus has four different seasons with each of them lasting a period of 21 earthly years. A single year in Uranus is the same as 84 earthly years. The period taken to orbit the sun.

Seasons In Uranus

Winter and summer seasons in Uranus, experience complete darkness and continuous daylight respectively. During winter, the poles are pointed away from the sun. During summer, the sun shines directly facing the poles. These seasons last for 21 years each.

In spring and fall, the rotational axis is oriented in such a way that the rays of the sun fall directly on the equatorial region of the planet. It is during this period that the planet has the day-night cycle. This cycle lasts for approximately 17 hours and 14 minutes. This is because Uranus spins at a very high speed on its axis. This fast change between day and night occurs for the most part of the planet which has initially experienced decades of complete darkness or continuous sunshine.

The change in season has a dramatic effect on the climate and weather patterns of Uranus. Voyager 2, a NASA spacecraft that visited Uranus in 1986 found that the planet is a featureless, blue planet. With advancement in technology, scientists can now see the change in seasons in Uranus from earth using powerful telescopes.

In 2007, the sun was shining directly above the equator of Uranus and this marked a period when the northern hemisphere was coming out of the two-decade-long winter. The sunlight is now evenly distributed giving us the ability to see latitudes and features on the planet.

In conclusion, the seasons on Uranus are influenced by the planet’s extreme sideways tilt on its axis. Winters in Uranus last for 21 years on the earthly scale and it is a period where half of the planet is plunged in total darkness.


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