Watch Uranus and its brightest moons dance across space

Uranus has 27 moons, and a handful are showing off in these fun videos.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This 2019 Hubble view of Uranus revealed a cloud cap on the north pole.

NASA/ESA/A. Simon/M.H. Wong/A. Hsu

Planets like Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus seem to soak up most of the glory and attention, but don't sleep on Uranus. The giant planet with the goofy name deserves some love, too. The University of Hertfordshire Bayfordbury Observatory captured a gorgeous look at Uranus dancing with its moons.

The observatory team shared several videos last week of Uranus in action, captured during opposition on Nov. 4. Opposition is when the planet is opposite the sun with Earth in the middle. While the ice giant is very hard to spot with the naked eye, the observatory did an excellent job of capturing the elusive planet.

The observatory tracked Uranus for four hours and made a video showing the planet's four brightest moons -- Titania, Oberon, Umbriel and Ariel -- moving around it. The celestial objects appear to slide across space as the stars in the background hold still. It's mesmerizing.

A second video keeps Uranus in the center of the frame. "Locking onto the movement of the planet we are able to see the orbit of the moons," the University of Hertfordshire Observatory tweeted. "Uranus is unique amongst the planets in that its moons orbit, along with its own rotation, are almost at 90 degrees to the orbit around the sun."

Uranus has 27 known moons, and a final video (massaged with some extra processing) from the observatory reveals the planet's fifth-largest moon, Miranda.

You might be sensing a theme to the moon-naming scheme for Uranus. Most of the moons are named for characters from William Shakespeare's plays. For fans of A Midsummer Night's Dream... yes, there is a moon named Puck, but it's too small to appear in the observatory's footage.

Uranus is a genuinely stinky planet that would smell like rotten eggs and farts if you got close enough. So go ahead and make fun of it, but remember it's also a fascinating place where it's always a marvelous night for a moon dance.