Feeds

Uranus strikes a pose for Hubble's camera

Edge on view of the rings

High performance access to file storage

Hubble has snapped a gorgeous shot of the rings of Uranus*.

I can see rings around Uranus. Credit: NASA/Hubble

I can see rings around Uranus. Credit: NASA/Hubble

The picture is extremely rare because the rings happen to be tilted perfectly edge on to Earth, an alignment that happens just twice every 894 years as the planet orbits the sun.

NASA points out that the last time the rings were aligned like this, no one actually knew the planet's rings existed.

The picture, taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, shows what appear to be spikes emanating from the planet's poles. These are the edges of Uranus' 13 rings, and they are actually poking out from its equator.

The planet is a bit of an oddball because it is orbiting the Sun on its side, with its axis almost parallel to the path it takes around our star.

Uranus is the second farthest official planet from the sun (apologies to any residual Pluto fans). It was confirmed as a planet by William Herschel back in 1781, although the earliest recorded sighting was in 1690, when astronomer John Flamsteed catalogued it as a star.

The planet appears blue because of the large quantity of methane** in its upper atmosphere, which preferentially absorbs red light. ®

*Stop sniggering at the back.

**We'll not say it again.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.