Uranus is stinky. It smells like a sewer. But you will never catch a whiff because the seventh planet from the sun is almost 2 billion miles from Earth. Uranus is composed of hydrogen, helium, water, ammonia and the malodorous gas, methane, which gives the planet its greenish, blue appearance. Uranus was discovered on March 13, 1781 by the German-born British astronomer, William Herschel. Herschel discovered Uranus by accident as he was making a survey of the fixed stars through his homemade telescope. Herschel noticed an object that moved against the background of stars. At first he thought it was a comet but after consulting others it was deemed a planet. After the discovery, Herschel suggested the new planet should be named Georgium Sidus for the king of England, King George III. Those outside of England balked at the idea and for a while the planet was called Herschel until it was named for the ancient Greek god of the sky, Ouranos. After its discovery the planet became quite the attraction in popular culture. In 1789 the German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth named his newly discovered chemical element, Uranium, after the new planet. Most of the planet's 27 moons are named for characters in the writings of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. Gustav Holst named the 6th movement of his orchestral suite The Planets after Uranus. You may hear his Uranus, The Magician movement in the Youtube link below.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
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