What Are the 27 Moons of Uranus Called?
Uranus is the seventh planet in the solar system and it has 27 moons. When we compare this to Earth's paltry one moon, it may seem like a lot. However, this doesn't mean Uranus is the planet with the most moons. This honor belongs to Saturn which has at least 124 traditional moons. Moons are natural satellites of a planet. The moons of Uranus are grouped according to their proximity to the planet. These include the inner satellites from Cordelia to Oberon, as well as the smaller and lesser known outer moons. At thedailyECO, we learn more facts about the moons by asking what are the 27 moons of Uranus called?
How many moons does Uranus currently have?
Uranus is a giant ice planet that for a long time was confused with a star, it was in the year 1783 when William Herschel confirmed the fact that Uranus was a new planet. It wasn't until 1986 that the first human spacecraft flew over Uranus. Up to this point only five moons and nine rings of this planet were known. Thanks to NASA's Voyager 2 exploration, another 10 satellites and 2 new rings were discovered.
It is for this reason we need to ask how many moons Uranus currently has. It is likely more data will be retrieved in the future which will shed some light on the planets in our solar system and their satellites. With this in mind, we can say Uranus is known to have 27 moons and 13 rings.
Such distance and lack of data also makes it difficult to know the exact composition of the moons of Uranus. Using deductive reasoning from what we do know, it is believed that all the inner moons are clumps of icy rock. They are likely composed of equal parts ice and rock, with certain levels of carbon dioxide and ammonia. The composition of the outer moons is less known. It is believer the outer moons of Uranus are asteroids caught in the planet's gravitational pull.
Of the 27 moons of Uranus, there are 5 which are considered the major moons. The 5 major moons of Uranus are called:
Before we discover what all 27 moons of Uranus are called, you can learn more about planetary satellites with our article on how many moons does Mars have?
The moon Miranda has a diameter of 293 mi/472 km, has an average temperature of -213 ºC/-351.4 ºF and an orbital period of 1.4 Earth days. Two types of topography can be distinguished on its surface of the Miranda moon of Uranus. One has old undulating areas marked by impact craters. The other has young crowns that present a succession of ridges, valleys and enormous cliffs.
Ariel has a diameter of 719.4 mi/1,157.8 km, an average temperature of -215 ºC/-355 ºF, and an orbital period of 2.52 Earth days. Its surface is porous and small impact craters can be seen. These impacts are believed to have erased older, smaller craters. Ariel appears to be the youngest moon of Uranus and also shows signs of recent geological activity. Here we find three types of terrain which are plains, striated terrain and impact craters.
Umbriel has a diameter of 728 mi/1,172 km, an average temperature of -193 ºC/-315.4, and an orbital period of 4.14 Earth days. It is the darkest moon of all of Uranus's moons. Its surface is very old. In the images provided by the Voyager 2 mission, it is possible to differentiate the impact of numerous craters that exceed 124 mi/200 km in diameter.
With a diameter of 1,041.3/1,675.8 km, Titania is neither more nor less than the largest moon of Uranus. It has an average temperature of -203 ºC/-333.4 ºF and an orbital period of 8.7 Earth days. Satellite images show impact craters, but to a much lesser extent relative to other moons, suggesting that it may have recently rejuvenated.
In terms of size, Oberon is the second largest moon of Uranus, at 946 mi/1,522.8 km in diameter. The average temperature is -198 ºC/-324.4 ºF and the orbital period is 13.46 Earth days. The images show the presence of a mountain at least 3.7 mi/6 km high on its surface, along with numerous impact craters, some of which exceed 124 mi/200 km in diameter.
What are the 27 moons of Uranus called?
We have described only the five major moons of Uranus, but there are still 22 more moons. We share what the 27 moons of Uranus are named, as well as the known diameter of each one:
- Cordelia: 16 mi/26 km
- Ophelia: 20 mi/32 km
- Bianca: 27 mi/44 km
- Cressida: 41 mi/66 km
- Desdemona: 36 mi/58 km
- Juliet: 52 mi/84 km
- Portia: 68 mi/110 km
- Rosalind: 33.5 mi/54 km
- Belinda: 42 mi/68 km
- Puck: 96 mi/154 km
- Cupid: 6.2 mi/10km
- Perdita: 12.4 mi/20 km
- Mab: 6.2 mi/10 km
- Miranda: 293 mi/472 km
- Ariel: 719.4 mi/1,157.8 km
- Umbriel: 728 mi/1,172 km
- Titania: 1,041.3/1,675.8 km
- Oberon: 946 mi/1,522.8 km
- Francisco: 13.6 mi/22km
- Caliban: 50 mi/80 km
- Stephano: 18.6 mi/30km
- Trinculo: 6.2 mi/10 km
- Sycorax: 97.5 mi/157 km
- Margaret: 12.4 mi/20 km
- Prospero: 25 mi/40 km
- Setebos: 25 mi/40 km
- Ferdinand: 13 mi/21 km
Why are the moons of Uranus named after Shakespeare characters?
As you will see many of these names are named after characters from Shakespeare plays, mainly the plays A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. They were given these names by astronomer William Herschel who discovered them in 1787. Why he gave these names, we do not know. For whatever reason, the tradition was carried on by subsequent astronomers who named new names after these characters.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first moons of Uranus to be discovered were the largest, i.e. Oberon and Titania. These moons are named after characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Uranus is unique in having moons named after Shakespeare characters, but there are also some of its moons named after characters from the English poet Alexander Pope.
Discover more about the planets in our solar system with our article on what are the rings of Neptune called?
Characteristics of Uranus
We already know about the moons of Uranus and their names, now we just have to learn a little about the characteristics of the planet:
- Uranus is 1,783,744,299.5 mi/2,870,658,186 km from the Sun and has a diameter of 31,518.4 mi/50,724 km. Discover more our solar system with our article on what are celestial bodies?
- The translation movement lasts 84 Earth years.
- The average temperature of the atmosphere is -224.2 ºC/-371.5 ºF.
- It has a particular magnetosphere with a magnetic axis inclined at 60º in respect to the axis of rotation and is displaced by 1/3 of the radius of the center of the planet.
- It has very extreme seasons. For 21 years both hemispheres are exposed to a bright sun, while the other half is in a long and dark winter.
- Due to the high pressure and temperature it has no true surface. 80% of its mass is hot and dense fluids of materials such as water, methane and ammonia.
- The atmosphere is composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, and to a lesser extent water, ammonia and methane. It is methane that is responsible for the blue-green color of the planet.
- The wind speed can reach 559 mph/900 kph.
- Uranus's rings were formed by meteorite impacts against the moons or by the impact between moons.
Now that you know how many moons Uranus has and some characteristics of this planet, you might want to know more with our article on what is the Earth's magnetosphere?
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- Geoiberia. (2019). Uranus and its moons. Retrieved from: http://www.geodiversidad.es/sistema-solar/urano-y-sus-lunas
- Dejoie, J., & Truelove, E. Natural Satellites of Uranus. Retrieved from: https://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild_Spanish/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level2/uranus_satellites.html