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Fun Fact February 6, 2020

6 February 2020


It’s 746 million miles from Earth and therefore any light reflected off the seventh planet from our sun is rather dim.  As a matter of fact Uranus was once thought to be a star, not a planet.  in March 1781 William Herschel used a telescope to discover that Uranus was actually a planet.  This giant ice ball gets a lot of flack for its name, but Uranus wasn’t always called that. For nearly 70 years after it was discovered, it was called George.  King George III rewarded Herschel for his discovery by appointing him as the official Court Astronomer. To honor his royal boss, Herschel named the planet he discovered Georgium Sidus, Latin for “The Star or Planet Of George.”  Other astronomers didn’t like the name George because of how English-centric it was, so they suggested alternatives. French scientists called the planet Herschel, but German astronomer Johann Bode’s suggestion of Uranus became the most popular. Bode named the planet after Ouranos, the ancient Greek mythological god, to fit with the convention of naming planets after deities from classical mythology.  Because of his discovery, Herschel became hugely respected by scientists and European nobles, and he received grant money to build better telescopes.  In 1816 Herschel received an honor pertaining to his own name when King George III knighted him, officially making him Sir William Herschel.


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