Our last close-up view of Uranus pictured in 1986 by Voyager 2. Credit: NASA/JPL

New telescope technology improves view of ‘blandest’ Uranus

By Elizabeth Howell
11 January 2013

(Sen) – At one time, we only knew Uranus as a small point of light in a telescope. Then, 205 years after its discovery in March 1781, scientists excitedly geared up for a close-up view with the Voyager 2 spacecraft.

The ship sped by the distant planet, taking a flurry of images with its visual-light camera. It revealed a practically featureless blue world sheathed in methane. Unfortunately for Uranus scientists, its moons appeared more interesting. Two, Oberon and the largest moon Titania, were discovered on this day in 1787 by William Herschel.

“Uranus got the reputation as the blandest planet in the solar system. As far as Voyager was concerned, that was certainly justified,” recalled Larry Sromovsky, a University of Wisconsin-Madison planetary scientist who was on the Voyager team.

That impression was wrong.

Read more: New telescope technology improves view of 'blandest' Uranus — Sen.

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