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Hubble spots long term seasonal changes on Uranus

Uranus as seen by Hubble in 2014 and 2022
Click for original image.

Using images of Uranus taken eight years apart by the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have detected significant seasonal changes in the atmosphere of the gas giant, caused by its unusual sideways rotation.

The two pictures to the left, realigned and reduced to post here, show the changes. If you look closely you can see the planet’s ring system and its shift to almost face on at present.

[top] — This is a Hubble view of Uranus taken in 2014, seven years after northern spring equinox when the Sun was shining directly over the planet’s equator, and shows one of the first images from the OPAL program. Multiple storms with methane ice-crystal clouds appear at mid-northern latitudes above the planet’s cyan-tinted lower atmosphere. Hubble photographed the ring system edge-on in 2007, but the rings are seen starting to open up seven years later in this view. At this time, the planet had multiple small storms and even some faint cloud bands.

[bottom] — As seen in 2022, Uranus’ north pole shows a thickened photochemical haze that looks similar to the smog over cities. Several little storms can be seen near the edge of the polar haze boundary. Hubble has been tracking the size and brightness of the north polar cap and it continues to get brighter year after year. Astronomers are disentangling multiple effects – from atmospheric circulation, particle properties, and chemical processes – that control how the atmospheric polar cap changes with the seasons. At the Uranian equinox in 2007, neither pole was particularly bright.

To really understand the long term climate of Uranus will likely take centuries, since its year lasts 84 Earth years. Since the beginning of space exploration, we have only had now about forty years of good imagery of the planet, and even that has been sporadic and very incomplete.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. All editions can also be purchased direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Gary H

    Your report needs to be fact checked. There are no humans on Uranus, so how can there be climate change?

  • Jhon B

    We are going to send Greta up there to get those people on the right track and stop that fuel bruning.

  • Robert Pratt

    Yes, “everyone” knows that planetary climates are static except when un-natural humans engage in commerce and life improvement.

  • David

    Gary H, Jhon B, and Robert Pratt:

    Thanks for the illuminating viewpoints. Profound!

  • Milt

    Hummmm. Given what is happening in its polar region, Uranus’ albedo ought to be increasing, but I have heard no reports of the planet’s brightness increasing as observed by astronomers. Ordinarily hovering on the edge of naked eye visibility at magnitude 5.6, I am wondering if it has become just a bit easier to see. Is anyone aware of such reports?

    PS — Yes, we should all chip in and help send Greta there to warn the Uranians of their impending doom.

  • Michael Puckett

    Well, it is the only planet we know of with an east and a west pole.

  • Star Bird

    Just how deep is the Snow on Uranus?

  • Max

    Ha! Snow…
    Uranus is the coldest of the four gas giants… Near 10,000°F under its atmosphere. About the same temperature as the photosphere (surface) of the sun. (it must be all that methane)

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