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back to article Uranus strikes a pose for Hubble's camera

Hubble has snapped a gorgeous shot of the rings of Uranus*. I can see rings around Uranus. Credit: NASA/Hubble I can see rings around Uranus. Credit: NASA/Hubble The picture is extremely rare because the rings happen to be tilted perfectly edge on to Earth, an alignment that happens just twice every 894 years as the planet …

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An oddball corrects an oddball comment...

"The planet is a bit of an oddball because it is orbiting the Sun on its side, with its axis almost parallel to the path it takes around our star."

Like all the other planets, barring the odd precessional wobble, it's spin axis maintains its orientation as it orbits, so its axis is only parallel to the orbital path twice per orbit.

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Well Done

You have out done yourselfs with that one!

Thanks for a great giggle to start the weekend.

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Anonymous Coward

Ooo, ahh, pretty... feel somewhat celetial today...

honest.

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894 years -> 84

Thanks for covering this kind of thing.

Just wanted to note that the "only twice in 894 years" comment must be a typo -- Uranus' orbital period is about 84 years. (So we must see its rings edge-on, if we know to look for them, about every 42 years. Neat.)

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Stuart, meet Stuart...

Stuart,

"Just wanted to note that the "only twice in 894 years" comment must be a typo..."

No typo.

Your thinking might be correct if the Earth was fixed relative to Uranus, but the Earth moves, too.

Stuart can verify this, I'm sure.

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on edge

all this talk about methane on Uranus seems a bit edgy to me.

*gets coat on the way out*

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A pedant corrects an oddball

May I leap to the defence of the splendid Ms Sherriff, and observe that "its axis almost parallel to the path it takes around our star" is simply one way of saying that the polar axis of Uranus is almost parallel to the plane of its orbit, due to its large obliquity.

In fact, its obliquity is about 98 degrees, which means that Uranus also rotates "backwards" on its axis compared to, say, the Earth.

Are we all happy now?

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Jon

Can I just have my two penneth worth??

While you're all getting so pedantic about information that is freely available in most childrens books about the solar system and thinking how clever you are for knowing this information, you've missed the point! (I know I'm gonna get flamed for this, but I don't care!)

This artical was nothing more than an excuse to write a sentence that included "rings aroung uranus" and "methane" and stem some jokes from that in the comment section. It's crying out for the jesters to come up with something funny but all we can say is that the thing's on its side and spinning backwards.. My Nan could do better than that, and she's dead!

Come on, let's get some jokes in here about piles or something! Afterall, it's a really pretty picture of Uranus that the HST took.. and there we all were thinking it was pointed out to space!

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Anonymous Coward

Rings?

Oh, I get it. Good one.

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Silver badge

mianus

Commonly pronounced uyr-anis, I have also heard an attempt to re-pronounce it (presumably to remove the posterial imagery) urine-ous -- which is probably WORSE!!

I have once heard a pronunciation that had no English-language issues, but I can't for the life of me recall what or who (though it may have been Carl Sagan).

Oh, and where is aManFromMars when things get topical?

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42 years not 894

No, it is every 42 years when we on Earth can see Uranus' rings edge on.

See http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/press-rel/pr-2007/pr-37-07.html

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Jon

Jon Jon Jon...

You haven't been listening now have you.. Get with the program now and start making silly jokes and stop being so precious about when these rings will next be visible like this! Urs or Mine, it's still got rings around it (although I think urs are substantially bigger than mine!) and the picture is just so very pretty! A bit spoiled by the blue blob in the middle.. What's that? The methane coming from Uranus?

Anyhow if we're going to start with this quoting business then the web page I found says that the next time we're going to see this is on 23rd October 2453 at 13:16:24 from Vladivostok.. Take a look for your self! :-P

http://www.bleb.org/random/

Personally, whether it's going to be in 2049, 2453 or even 2901, I doubt I'll be in a position to care whether I can see the rings, but I'll probably still enjoy making jokes about Uranus in 2049 if you're so retentive as to say "I told you so!" :-)

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being pedantic about uranus is just anal

Hubble Penetration : The Rings Of Uranus

Uranus Stung for close up pictures of ring

Uranus is more full of methane than a cow

Paps Snap Bent Over Planets Ring

Uranus Trumps Britney and Flashes Ring

Ring of Desire : hilton bottles uranus's upper atmosphere, launches new fragrance

think that will do for now......

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To quote Futurama...

Professor: "I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all."

Fry: "Oh. What's it called now?"

Professor: "Urectum."

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Anonymous Coward

amanfrommars is busy smoking his crack pipe

... foo

well smoking something i hope otherwise hes just tory propaganda as to how and why care in community doesnt work.

[would vote if 'none of the above was an option']

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stop being silly..

..as *everyone* knows, this planet is called *Bumhole* (pron. bum-ho-ley) although astronomers were debating whether it should be called *Ringpeace* or *Xphincter.*

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A better pronunciation

How about "ER-ah-nees"? That is probably closer to the original Greek pronunciation anyway.

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Jon

Hooray, I can use google..

At the risk of getting all anal about this(!), according to this web site:

http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/greek-mythology.php?deity=URANUS

the Greek god is pronounced Ur-a-Nus, which from what I can work out, is as close to the evocative pronounciation as I can imagine, however I have no Greek preople in the viscinity to ask, so I'm off to get a kebab to see it I can gather any corroborrating evidence!

Anyhow, no matter how it's pronounced in other parts of the world, I like the British way, if only because it brings a silly schoolby grin accross my face every time!

My vote goes to the Futurama reference above, despite the fact that I haven't got the slightest clue what the reference made regarding amanfrommars and crack pipes is referring to..

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Anonymous Coward

42 years..

Although it has already been pointed out that it is wrong, this amused me anyway:

"The picture is extremely rare because the rings happen to be tilted perfectly edge on to Earth, an alignment that happens just twice every 894 years as the planet orbits the sun.

NASA points out that the last time the rings were aligned like this, no one actually knew the planet's rings existed."

Presumably because no one actually knew the PLANET existed 447 years ago (as you said, only since 1781)

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More useless info

The axis of rotation of the the planets varies relative to the axis of rotation round the sun (currently 23.5° - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth). If Earth didn't have such a large moon, we'd have much bigger variations here and we'd be toast.

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Anonymous Coward

let there be...

"And G-d said, Pull my finger: and there was Uranus."

The part that amazed me most was realizing G-d's farts are blue. That's a cool party trick.

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Anonymous Coward

But why say....

"an alignment that happens just twice every 894 years" and not "once every 447" which is still an impressively big number.

And could an expert (no, a real expert, thanks) clear up the debate whether this alignment is once every 447 years or once every 42 years?

And remember folks, the alignment of the rings as seen from Earth does not necessarily align with the planet's orbit.

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The years thingy...

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/hubble-20070823.html

copy/cut -> paste -> read -> enuff said

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Anonymous Coward

And more importantly...

4'47' is a Star Trek reference (If anyone doesn't get this [and you really should]... well, just google it. If you can't google it, WTF are you doing reading this website?)

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why twice every 894 and not once every 447?

erm, if you think about it, it should be obvious!

Uranus goes round the sun, so there will be two times at which it's aligned edge on with the sun (once on each side). But Earth goes around the sun too, so those two points at which earth sees uranus edge on, again once on each side, will vary with an uneven period between them, although definitely twice within a longer period. of 894 years. apparently.

And what about all those times when it's edge on but the sun's in the way?

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Silly jokes about Uranus

Sir Patrick Moore (famous popularizer of astronomy and TV personality, for non-UK readers) was the first to get get tired of the old joke, and started calling the planet "YOO-run-us" on his TV programme "The Sky at Night". (The first syllable is emphasised, not the second, and the last two syllables are very short, with the vowel in the second syllable hardly pronounced at all.)

His spoilsport attitude was picked up by the comedy puppet programme "Spitting Image", who announced the discovery of a new moon of Jupiter by an Italian astronomer, who had named it "Bumhole" but (being Italian) insisted that it be pronounced "Byoom-OLE-ay".

I can't remember when this was, but Spitting Image ended its last run quite a few years ago.

Many years prior to that, "Private Eye" (again for non-UK readers, a satirical magazine which carries a regular feature on amusing misprints in the press) reprinted a facsimile of a genuine astrological column from a certain daily newspaper in which the prediction for one star sign read something like: "The presence of Uranus will add a certain unexpected excitement to your activities tonight."

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Britney Angle?

Where's the Paris Hilton angle? Does She have an anus ring too?

And whatever happened to Britney? Was she "demoted" like Pluto?

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Anonymous Coward

Aha.... Thanks Matt..

Ok, so now it's all nice and clear, according to Nasa (who are American, who are notoriously accurate with their calculations.. Ask anyone standing in the viscinity of an American tank in Iraq!) the orbit of Uranus is 84 years, so we should see the rings edge on every 42 years or so.. Although if we happen to be o the wrong side of the sun when the rings happen to be perpendicular to the earths orbit, we're stuffed.. Or maybe this was taken into account when someone calculated 894 years??

Or is it all a myth and existance only is real because of my conciousness? Duh now I'm confused! Arrrggghhh my brain hurts! Is my brain real? Mother!!!

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Astronomical bill as

iPhone rings Uranus

Right, HCD

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How does the World work?

Erudite and articulate individuals can barely agree on anything Up There. How on Earth can we fix anything down here? To put it another way, how does the World work at all?

Discuss.

(Like Hell I will)

(Liverpool to win 2-0)

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