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Conceptual Questions


Why was it necessary for Herschel to observe Uranus on more than a single night for him to be convinced that he had discovered a new object within our solar system?

What was the reason that, after the discovery of Uranus, astronomers began to believe that there was a planet beyond Uranus?

The discovery of Neptune is usually attributed to John Couch Adams and Urbain Leverrier. What did they do to warrant this recognition?

Why is it sometimes said that the discovery of Pluto near the position predicted by Percival Lowell was a lucky accident?

In what ways are Uranus and Neptune similar and in what ways are they different?

Describe why the pattern of sunlight and darkness for a hypothetical inhabitant of Uranus's polar regions has little relationship to the rotational period of Uranus.

Why doesn't the severe tilt of the rotation axis of Uranus result in great temperature differences between the day side and the night side of the planet?

What is the reason that Uranus lacks the cloud features found on Neptune?

Neptune is 50% farther from the Sun than Uranus is, yet their atmospheric temperatures are nearly the same. How is this possible?

What evidence do we have that the rock and ice in Uranus and Neptune are concentrated near the centers of those planets?

How do the icy-rocky cores of Neptune and Uranus compare with those of Jupiter and Saturn?

What is unusual about the magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune compared with those of the other planets?

What evidence do we have to suggest that the magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune don't originate in currents in the central regions of those planets?

How were the ring systems of Uranus and Neptune detected before they were actually seen in Voyager 2 images?

How does the appearance of the rings of Uranus compare with the appearance of the rings of Saturn?

How do we know that there is fine dust between the rings of Uranus?

What is the reason that some of the predicted occultations of stars by Neptune's rings could not be detected from the Earth?

Why is it somewhat incorrect to say that Pluto is the most distant known planet in the solar system?

How do we know the length of the rotation period of Pluto?

How did the discovery of Pluto's satellite, Charon, make it possible to calculate the mass of Pluto?

What arguments can be used to refute the proposition that Pluto is an escaped satellite of Neptune?

Describe the different ways in which searches for solar system planets beyond Pluto have been carried out. What were the results of those searches?

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