Titania is the largest moon of Uranus. Its name comes from a character in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare.
Titania is the largest Uranian satellite. It is possesses a more mass than Oberon, the second largest moon of Uranus, and its radius is slightly greater than that of Oberon. The mean radius of Titania is 788.9 km, while that of Oberon is 761.4 km, according to NASA.
Only seven other moons in the Solar System are larger than Titania: the four largest moons of Jupiter, the Saturnian moon Titan, the Neptunian moon Triton, and our own Moon.
The semimajor axis is 435,300 km, according to NASA. This figure approximates the average distance between Titania and the center of Uranus.
The orbit of Titania is nearly circular. Its eccentricity is 0.0011, according to NASA.
The plane of Titania’s orbit forms a very small angle with the plane of the equator of Uranus. However, the plane of Titania’s orbit is almost perpendicular to the plane of Uranus’ orbit around the Sun.
Titania completes a circuit in 8.706 days, according to NASA. The same side of Titania always faces the mother planet, just as we always see the same side of the Moon.
The nearest neighbors of Titania are Umbriel and Oberon. Umbriel is closer to Uranus; Oberon is farther away.
The density of Titania is 1.662 g/cc, according to NASA. Since moons contain various materials with different densities, this density of Titania is an average figure. Note also that Titania cannot be taken into a laboratory and weighed and measured exactly, so the chance of error in the measurement of Titania’s density is greater than density determinations of terrestrial elements and compounds.
On the basis of this density measurement, it is thought that Titania is probably composed of a large amount of water ice with a generous admixture of rock.
Effects of Magnetosphere
Like the earth, Uranus has a magnetic field. The space around Uranus in which its magnetic field exerts an influence is its magnetosphere. As Uranus rotates on its axis, its magnetosphere rotates with it. Since Uranus rotates on its axis in less than an earth day, the magnetosphere moves faster than Titania, and the ions in the magnetosphere regularly strike the trailing side of Titania as it revolves around Saturn. According to Wikipedia, this may make the trailing hemisphere of Titania darker than it normally would be.
Titania and Oberon were the first Uranian moons to be discovered. They were discovered by William Herschel in the year 1787. In 1852, his son John gave them the names by which we know them today. (Remember that William Herschel was the astronomer who discovered Uranus in 1681.)
Thanks to pictures taken by Voyager 2, we have some information concerning the surface of Titania, including large craters and deep chasms. Less than half the surface of Titania was photographed.
Origin of Name
Titania is a character in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare. In the play, Titania incurs Oberon’s wrath. With the help of Puck, he enchants her so that she falls in love with a man who has the head of a donkey.
Mendelssohn wrote incidental music for this Shakespearean play. His famous wedding march originally adorned the mock marriage of Titania with her bizarre partner.
Mercifully, Titania is restored to her right mind at the end of the play.
NASA: Titania – Facts and Figures
Wikipedia: Titania (Moon)
“American Journal of Physics”; Average Distance between a star and a planet in an eccentric orbit; Darren M. Williams; Nov. 2003
Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy; Ian Ridpath, editor; 2007
MIT: A Midsummer Night’s Dream