How did the planet Uranus get its name? How to pronounce Uranus?

How did the planet Uranus get its name? How to pronounce Uranus?

Its name has been the butt of countless bad jokes. The planet Uranus is the dimmest bulb in our solar system, and nothing more than a celestial conglomeration of hydrogen, helium, and ice. How did it get the name Uranus? Have you heard that it was first known as “George”?

There’s actually more truth than rumor in this story, but the lines of historical fact and fiction are blurred just enough to make the discovery and naming of the seventh planet fascinating. The heavenly globe that eventually was saddled with the name Uranus had been seen for years before it was given its just rewards.

For decades, it was thought to be simply another star and was even catalogued as such under the name 34 Tauri, because it was initially detected in the constellation Taurus. Astronomer William Herschel first determined that the circulating specimen was actually a planet. On the evening of March 13th, 1791, while scanning the sky for the odd and unusual, Herschel spotted what he first assumed was a comet.

After months of scrutiny, Hershel announced his discovery to a higher power, in this case the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge, which agreed that the scientist had indeed plucked a planet out of the night sky.

King George III was duly impressed and rewarded Herschel with a tidy bursary to continue his research. To honor his monarch, Herschel named his discovery Georgium Sidus, or George’s Star, referred to simply as George. This caused some consternation among Herschel’s contemporaries, who felt the planet should be given a more appropriate, and scientific, moniker. It was therefore decided to name the new planet for Uranus, the Greek god of the sky. Let the mispronunciations begin!

how to pronounce Uranus

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