A Size Comparison of Uranus and Neptune’s Moons Reveals Their Epic Names

Assuming you’ve accepted Pluto’s demotion, Uranus and Neptune are the two planets in our Solar System farthest from Earth. That distance means humanity is still learning a lot about them. Some of those discoveries lead to amusing headlines like “ Neptune’s ‘Fart Storm’ Is About to Die” and “ Probing Uranus Is Our Next Space Exploration Priority.” The size comparison below shows off what we do known about the moons of both planets.  

Uranus has 27 moons and, even though scientists named them over the course of 150 years, most get their monikers from characters in Shakespeare’s many plays. Uranus himself was god of the sky and air, so the planet’s first moons got their names from fairies and sprites. Well-known characters like Juliet and Puck are represented in the list, but there’s also Miranda, a name Shakespeare invented. Most of the smaller moons in the video above belong to Uranus. There are large, spherical moons as well, culminating with the largest, Titania, which is still less than half the size of our own Moon. 

A graphic showing an aerial view of Uranus' and Neptune's moons compared to London

Neptune, named after the god of the sea, has 14 moons. All of them represent Greek and Roman water mythology. The largest moon is Triton, which is nearly as large as Earth’s Moon. The most recently discovered (and also the smallest) is Hippocamp. It is named after a mythological creature that is half fish and half horse. 

Considering that astronomers spotted many of the moons around Uranus and Neptune for the first time in 1989 when Voyager 2 flew by, it’s possible that there’s still more to learn about both planets and their satellite moons and rings as we continue to explore and utilize better technology.

A graphic from the ground in London showing Uranus' and Neptune's moons looming

Among the MetaBallStudios YouTube channel’s many other size comparisons are other moons in our Solar System. Saturn has 83 moons and Jupiter has 80, including Titan, the largest in our stellar neighborhood.  

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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