As one of the furthest planets from the Sun, mysterious Uranus still has a lot of unanswered questions about it. Due to the large distance between us and the planet, it’s not exactly the most accessible for us to learn about.
Fortunately, thanks to the Voyager 2 mission which passed Uranus in the mid 1980s, a lot of our assumptions about the planet were true. So, let’s see just how far away Uranus is from our planet in comparison to some others in the solar system.
How many miles away is Uranus from Earth?
The planet Uranus is approximately 1.7 billion miles away from Earth. Though the truth is that this is only the average distance between the two planets. In reality, the actual distance varies from 1.6 billion miles at its shortest, all the way up to 1.9 billion miles depending on the stage of orbit the two planets are in.
And as of now, Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to make that journey and fly within a fairly close proximity of the planet. The Voyager 2 mission left Earth in mid 1977, and it didn’t make it all the way out to Uranus until January 1986, meaning it took almost 9 years for it to travel that whole distance. Bear in mind that this spacecraft was and is travelling at tens of thousands of miles an hour too, and you get a slight idea of just how far away it is.
But how does the distance stack up against other planets? Well, typically we use AU, which is the distance between us and the Sun. If we think about travel to the next closest planet to us, Mars, this is around 2.5 AU away from Earth, or 230 million miles. Uranus is around 20 AU from the planet Earth, so in comparison to Mars, it’s eight times further for us to get there.
The distances between the planets actually increase the further away from the Sun you go, with the larger Jovian planets becoming the norm. The ice giant Uranus is around 50 times further out from the Sun that Mercury, which is the first planet you’d meet if travelling outwards from the Sun itself. This is just one of many planet Uranus facts that you may want to know, but there are plenty more interesting things about this planet.
Although you may not think it would be possible with such a great distance between us and Uranus, it is actually possible to spot the planet in the night sky. For the most part you’re going to want to use a telescope to do this, but those with perfect eyesight may actually be able to see Uranus without even using one.
However, Uranus is always one of the smallest planets to our eyes when looking into the night sky, and it’s far from the brightest too (Venus is the best for this, as its super close and the brightest of the other 7 planets). But the truth is that if you use the right star chart, then you should be able to find Uranus in the night sky during specific times of the year.
One of the most interesting things about the planet is its rotation, as it is one of the slowest to spin round in the solar system. It takes Uranus 84 years for it to make one full lap around the Sun, which is a little different on this planet due to the fact that it’s on its size. This means that half of the planet will stay in darkness, whilst the other half will stay in the Sun’s glare – but because it’s tilted on its side, each side can have 42 years of darkness followed by 42 years of summer heat.
Undoubtedly a fascinating planet and one that is worth learning more about if you’re interested in astronomy, Uranus is often overlooked as the seventh planet from the Sun. But as you can see above, it’s as interesting as any other planet (if not more so than some!).