Daily Almanac for Monday, March 13, 2023

On this date in 1781, The planet Uranus was discovered by English astronomer Sir William Herschel. Uranus’s atmosphere taken during the Outer Planet Atmosphere Legacy (OPAL) program. 2019 photo By ESA Hubble, CC BY 4.0, https commons.wikimedia.org


Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It is named after Greek sky deity Uranus (Caelus), who in Greek mythology is the father of Cronus (Saturn), a grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter) and great-grandfather of Ares (Mars). Uranus has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. The planet is similar in composition to Neptune, and both have bulk chemical compositions which differ from those of the other two giant planetsJupiter and Saturn (the gas giants). For this reason, scientists often distinguish Uranus and Neptune as “ice giants“.

As with gas giants, ice giants lack a well-defined solid surface. Uranus’s atmosphere is similar to Jupiter’s and Saturn’s in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium, but it contains more “ices” such as water, ammonia, and methane, along with traces of other hydrocarbons. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the Solar System, with a minimum temperature of 49 kelvins (−224 °C; −371 °F). It has a complex, layered cloud structure; water is thought to make up the lowest clouds and methane the uppermost layer. The planet’s interior is mainly composed of ices and rock.

Like the other giant planets, Uranus has a ring system, a magnetosphere, and numerous moons. The Uranian system has a unique configuration because its axis of rotation is tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its solar orbit. Therefore, its north and south poles lie where most other planets have their equators. In 1986, images from Voyager 2 showed Uranus as an almost featureless planet in visible light, without the cloud bands or storms associated with the other giant planets. No other spacecraft has yet visited the planet. Observations from Earth have shown seasonal change and increased weather activity as Uranus approached its equinox in 2007. Wind speeds can reach 250 metres per second (900 km/h; 560 mph).

The man who discovered Uranus, Sir William Herschel 1785 portrait by Lemuel Francis Abbott, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org


Frederick William Herschel KHFRS (/ˈhɜːrʃəl, ˈhɛər-/GermanFriedrich Wilhelm Herschel; 15 November 1738 – 25 August 1822) was a German-born British astronomer and composer. He frequently collaborated with his younger sister and fellow astronomer Caroline Herschel (1750–1848). Born in the Electorate of Hanover, William Herschel followed his father into the military band of Hanover, before emigrating to Great Britain in 1757 at the age of nineteen.

Herschel constructed his first large telescope in 1774, after which he spent nine years carrying out sky surveys to investigate double stars. Herschel published catalogues of nebulae in 1802 (2,500 objects) and in 1820 (5,000 objects). The resolving power of the Herschel telescopes revealed that many objects called nebulae in the Messier catalogue were actually clusters of stars. On 13 March 1781 while making observations he made note of a new object in the constellation of Gemini. This would, after several weeks of verification and consultation with other astronomers, be confirmed to be a new planet, eventually given the name of Uranus. This was the first planet to be discovered since antiquity, and Herschel became famous overnight. As a result of this discovery, George III appointed him Court Astronomer. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and grants were provided for the construction of new telescopes.

Herschel pioneered the use of astronomical spectrophotometry, using prisms and temperature measuring equipment to measure the wavelength distribution of stellar spectra. In the course of these investigations, Herschel discovered infrared radiation. Other work included an improved determination of the rotation period of Mars, the discovery that the Martian polar caps vary seasonally, the discovery of Titania and Oberon (moons of Uranus) and Enceladus and Mimas (moons of Saturn). Herschel was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order in 1816. He was the first President of the Royal Astronomical Society when it was founded in 1820. He died in August 1822, and his work was continued by his only son, John Herschel.


Commonwealth Day (Canada)

A day for the 53 Commonwealth countries to acknowledge their shared values, their diversity, and their combined contributions to international harmony and prosperity. Since 1977, this day of observance occurs in Canada on the second Monday in March. The Royal Union flag is flown at many federal locations, and students learn about the Commonwealth via special activities.

Question of the Day

Does Vermont have a long enough growing season for red peppers? The green bell type are no problem. How about okra?

It is possible to grow red bell peppers in Vermont (and areas with a similar climate), but they may not be as large as their southern-grown cousins. If they’re planted in a sheltered valley, if spring comes early, and if the summer is hot, hot, hot—then maybe. Okra, on the other hand, is better suited to warmer climates. This plant requires a warm soil and climate, which is why it is associated with the South!

Read our Growing Guides for bell peppers and okra!

Advice of the Day

Though honey is sweet, do not lick it off a brier.

Home Hint of the Day

When laying a floor, start along the most irregular wall. It’s easier to cut for that wall before laying floorboards that close you in.

Word of the Day


The visible rising and setting of the Sun’s upper limb across the unobstructed horizon of an observer whose eyes are 15 feet above ground level.

Puzzle of the Day

What do we often return but never borrow?



  • Joseph Priestley (scientist) – 1733
  • Abigail Fillmore (U.S. First Lady) – 1798
  • Percival Lowell (astronomer) – 1855
  • Hugo Wolf (composer) – 1860
  • Janet Flanner (journalist) – 1892
  • Sammy Kaye (bandleader) – 1910
  • L. Ron Hubbard (author) – 1911
  • Douglas Rain (Canadian actor) – 1928
  • Neil Sedaka (singer) – 1939
  • William H. Macy (actor) – 1950
  • Deborah Raffin (actress) – 1953
  • Adam Clayton (bass guitarist for U2) – 1960
  • Annabeth Gish (actress) – 1971
  • Coco Gauff (tennis player ) – 2004


  • Benjamin Harrison (23rd U.S. president) – 1901
  • Susan B. Anthony (American social reformer ) – 1906
  • Bruno Bettelheim (child psychologist) – 1990
  • Maureen Stapleton (actress) – 2006
  • Robert C. Baker (founded Cornell University’s Institute of Food Science and Marketing. He was responsible for many innovations including chicken nuggets and chicken hot dogs) – 2006
  • Peter Tomarken (game show host) – 2006
  • William Hurt (actor ) – 2022


  • Harvard University was named for clergyman John Harvard– 1639
  • Halley’s Comet reached perihelion– 1759
  • The planet Uranus was discovered by English astronomer Sir William Herschel– 1781
  • First political cartoon depicting “Uncle Sam” published– 1852
  • Confederate Congress agreed on the recruitment of slaves into the army (U.S. Civil War)– 1865
  • Chester Greenwood patented earmuffs– 1877
  • Eadweard Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope, an early movie projector, debuted in London– 1882
  • Tennessee banned teaching evolution– 1925
  • The discovery of Pluto, the ninth planet, was officially announced on this date, which was Percival Lowell’s birthday. Lowell was founder of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, where Clyde W. Tombaugh discovered Pluto on February 18, 1930. (Much later, Pluto’s planet designation changed!)– 1930
  • Hitler took formal possession of Vienna (WWII)– 1938
  • The Viet Minh began a successful siege of the French-held Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam– 1954
  • Oil discovered in Prudhoe Bay in Alaska– 1968
  • U.S. Apollo 9 splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean after a 10-day flight testing the lunar module– 1969
  • The Common Market officially inaugurated the new European Monetary System– 1979
  • Irving King Jordan, Jr., became the first deaf president of Gallaudet University– 1988
  • Solar flare caused power grid failure of Hydro-Quebec in Canada– 1989
  • Moscow’s newspaper, Pravda, announced that it was suspending publication– 1992
  • UFOs seen over Arizona, Nevada, and Sonora, Mexico– 1997
  • For 15 minutes, Luciano Pavarotti took in bravos after the night’s performance of Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera. It was his final night of staged opera; the end of a career that began 43 years earlier. It was the biggest farewell ovation at the Met since soprano Leonie Rysanek said goodbye in January 1996.– 2004
  • Twenty-five year old Dallas Seavey became the youngest winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race– 2012
  • Roman Catholic cardinals elected the church’s first South American leader, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He took the name Pope Francis I.– 2013


  • Three-day blizzard, Saratoga, New York, 58 inches snow– 1888
  • Seventy-three inches of snow depth at Woodstock, Vermont– 1963
  • Blizzard in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine dumped 3 feet of snow– 1984
  • High of 83 degrees F in New York City– 1990
  • East coast blizzard dumped heavy snow: 25 inches in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 27 inches in Albany, New York; and 13 inches in Birmingham, Alabama– 1993

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