NOTE- Although Flight of Rings tale is imaginary, the facts about Uranus and its rings are factual and in the story below. Many tracks incorporate the actual solar wind sounds from the rings of Uranus recorded by Voyager 2 in 1977. The listener hears these sounds as tinkling bells, bird chirps, gongs, and winds weaving within the music]
VOYAGE TO URANUS
Our trip began during the early Summer of 2006 to visit the rings encircling the planet Uranus. We brought recording equipment along with our cameras in hopes of capturing the sounds of the solar winds weaving through the rings. Since we had only read about these rings and seen photographs of Uranus and them via telescope we had no idea of how special our voyage was to be. We knew our destination (pronounced you`ran us) was 1.8 billion miles from Earth but with our specially designed ship taking advantage of the balloon effect of space we could make the journey to the outer moons in a very short hop, having our children back in time for school.
We emerged at the first ring, closest to Uranus and discovered, much to our surprise, a huge orbiting rock between Six and Uranus. Because of its size it had not been seen by our Earth telescopes. We called the rock Delia and moved our base of operations there. That done we began our tour of Six, the first ring, 41.8km above the planet. The ring itself was composed of billions of tiny pebbles and not ice crystals as we first thought. The view looking through the pebbles and around the ring to the outer edges was breathtaking. The huge cold planet behind us yielded a close-up view of the covering blue gasses.
Continuing outward from the outer edge of the ring was a short trip. The inner group of pebbles was very close to Six and although there was little difference between the two rings thus traveled, looking back at Six we got the impression of being further from Uranus than we really were.
Again, this group of slightly larger pebbles lay close to Five’s outer edge but the feeling was different. The slow, undulating movement of pebbles and stones reminded us of ocean waves in slow motion. We wondered if the solar winds in this ring were causing the movement. Looking out through the other rings it was easy to imagine the vastness of an ocean.
Only 2km from Four, this was a very wide ring, almost 7km from inside to outside. Looking across the surface of stones gave the impression of solidarity. Seemingly glistening off the ring the vast heavens of stars let us know we were in a space kingdom of beauty. There’s something uniquely quieting about the many colored points of light embedded in the black velvet of the universe.
45.6km from Uranus and similar in width to Alpha Ring, Beta made us think of a wide plain covered with lightly falling snow, dust particles on either side of the larger pebbles adding to the effect of Winter. Looking past the next few rings we visioned mountains of ice rising into space.
A very narrow ring, Eta was almost missed in our 1.5km trip to its inner edge. I doubt it was more than 1/10km in width, its thickness as thin as were the rings we had already passed. The pebbles we found in the early rings were replaced by dancing dust particles. It was here on Eta that we first were able to record the sound of solar winds rushing around and through the dust particles. Some of the sounds were as tiny wind chimes in a breeze. We thought the wider rings just passed inhibited the sounds made by those winds, but later proved otherwise. Since we had to stop to record the sounds we had time to look over the vastness of velvet around us and again behold the wonders of our galaxy.
Although not the largest ring in the system it seemed wide with respect to the tiny Eta. Here the stones, not illuminated as well by the blue Uranus, seemed mysterious. A sense of haunting immediately charged the air around us but that feeling soon faded away. The stones brushed against each other in the ring and we could imagine the clunk and bumps of a gyrating rhythmless rock drummer banging away on his instruments.
With its ring consisting of frosted rocks and pebbles, we could see the huge outer ring glistening in the eerie light of Uranus. From here we saw the mountains we envisioned from the view on Six for what they really were. Looking past it and halfway around to the other side of Delta ring we could just see the moon Ophelia on the other side of Epsilon. We had the strangest feeling of being close to home.
This was a sight to behold: An army of mighty white glaciers and smaller chunks of ice moving slowly within the 100km wide ring. It stretched out beneath us as a high altitude view of Antarctica. We turned our small ship back to Delia to berth our ring ship and prepare for our return voyage through the rings, remembering each one as we passed for the last time. Six, Five, Four, Alpha. Then Beta, Eta, Delta and over the final icy ring, Saturn with its vastly different rings, looming afar off. With one last look at the velvet blackness we returned home.
URANUS - HISTORICAL INFORMATION
This, the third largest planet in our solar system, may be the strangest because it spins on its side. That severe tilt to its rotational axis may result from a great collision long ago. As the seventh planet from the Sun, Uranus takes 84 years to complete an orbit. It is a "gas giant" with no solid surface. It may have a small, silicate-rich core, but most of its gas consists of water, ammonia and methane. The methane gas above the cloud layers gives it a blue-green color.
The Uranian ring system was discovered in 1977 during observations of a stellar occultation by the planet. The star was observed to blink out briefly five times before the planet and again five times afterward, indicating that the planet was encircled by five narrow rings. Subsequent Earth-based observations indicated that there were actually nine major rings. The Voyager cameras show that the nine major rings are surrounded by belts of fine dust.
Mean Distance from Sun 2,870,972,200 km (1.78 x 109 miles) or 19.19 astronomical units
Diameter 31,763.3 miles
Volume (Earth = 1) 52
Density 1.30 gm/cm3
Mass 8.68 x 1025 kg (3.06 x 1027 ounces) or 14.48 (Earth = 1)
Surface gravity 1.15 (Earth = 1)
Rotation period (length of day in Earth hours) 0.72 or 17.2 Earth hours (spins backwards compared to most other planets)
Revolution period (length of year in Earth years) 83.75 30,589 days
Mean surface temperature -322.87f
Natural satellites Five of largest are Miranda, Titania, Oberon, Umbriel, Ariel. Sixteen others had been discovered before 2001
STEVEN ROBERG COMPOSER BIO
Steven has been composing his unique style of music since 1989. During this time he has released five theme albums on the web. This is his first professional release for Epilogue Masterworks.
What Mr. Roberg composes is soul music, in the sense that it will touch you at a deep level. The melodies are melancholic, victorious, hauntingly relaxing and uplifting . He says, "I look at my music as art. I like to create music like a painter paints a picture. For me my music is like a painting. The only difference is, I paint with sounds instead of pigments."
In the Fall of 2000, Steven Roberg composed the Motion Picture Soundtrack and dialogue underscoring for "One Christmas Eve," a movie made for television. He has written several film and game scores and is currently contemplating the pilot film score for a possible new Star Trek series.
(If you are interested in stocking this CD for resale please contact via email listed)