Get yer jokes ready, folks!
A distant, icy, green giant—the planet Uranus—appears to have unexpectedly awakened from a long slumber. Astronomers have discovered a yet unexplained rash of extreme storms on the normally placid planet.
Peering through the world's most powerful telescopes, the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope, a team of researchers based out of the University of California, Berkeley have spotted unusually bright cloud activity in the upper atmosphere of the seventh planet from the sun, which lies about 1.86 billion miles (3 billion kilometers) away.
Over a span of just two days in early August this year, the team spotted eight storms in the planet's northern hemisphere. One of the storms is now considered the brightest ever seen there, accounting for 30 percent of all the reflected light we can see coming off Uranus. (Related: "Auroras Seen on Uranus for First Time.")
Hubble looked at the planet just this past October 24 and found multiple giant storms extending more than 5,592 miles (9,000 kilometers) across, at various altitudes. That is roughly three-quarters of the diameter of Earth.