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This is an image of Uranus and Earth showing their seasons.
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Image from: The Atmosphere, 5th edition

A Uranus day = a Uranus summer

As a planet orbits the sun, if its rotation axis is tilted, the portion that is tilted toward the sun will receive an excess of sunlight and energy (summer), while the hemisphere which is tilted away from the sun will be deprived of sunlight and energy (winter). Half a year later, the hemisphere which receives the most sun will be reversed. The fact that there may be an excess or a deficit of light and energy affects planetary meteorology.

Because Uranus lies on its side, with the north pole facing the sun, Uranus' seasons should be very strange. The north pole faces the sun, which means it is in daylight, and the atmosphere in that hemisphere never rotates to the nightside to cool. The south pole faces away from the sun, and the atmosphere in that hemisphere never rotates to the day. As Uranus orbits the sun, the north pole will be in daylight for half of a year (spring and summer). This means a Uranus day is the same as a Uranus summer. The meteorology of such a planet should be very strange.


Last modified May 7, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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