Uranus is the third largest planet in the Solar System by size and fourth largest by mass. It is the seventh planet from from the Sun, after Saturn and before Neptune. Although it can be observed from Earth it wasn’t identified as a planet until 1781 when it was discovered by British astronomer Sir William Herschel with a telescope. Although Herschel described a ring around the planet in 1789 it is generally thought that he would not have been able to observe the rings with his equipment at the time. The rings around Uranus were confirmed for the first time in 1977 by James Elliot, Edward Dunham and Douglas Mink. Let’s find out how many rings Uranus has.
How many rings does Uranus have?
In the year after the initial discovery of the rings astronomers had identified a total of nine rings surrounding the planet. The rings were photographed by the Voyager 2 probe in 1986 and two more rings were found at this time, which brought the total to 11 rings. There were no additional rings found until 2005 when two more rings were found by the Hubble Space Telescope. These rings are far further out from the planet than the rest of the rings and are called the outer ring system. These outer rings are very faint and are thought to be composed mostly of very small particles. As of 2012 there are 13 known rings of Uranus, but it is quite possible that more will be found in the future.
Did you know?
Most of the rings that surround Uranus are thought to consist of small particles and some dust. Other thin bands of dust are also though to exist, but these may only be temporary.