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Uranus reaches opposition on October 3, 2013

Uranus, the distant ice giant reaches opposition on October 3, 2013. The seventh planet from the Sun is currently located in the constellation of Pisces just southeast of the large "Square of Pegasus". At magnitude +5.7, Uranus is towards the naked eye visibility limit. One great challenge is to try and spot the planet without optical aid. To do this you will need dark moonless skies, away from light pollution and good seeing conditions. If you then manage to spot the planet, you will join a select group of people who have managed to achieve this.

If you can't manage to locate Uranus with the naked eye, don't worry; it's a very easy binocular or small telescope target.

Uranus as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2005 (NASA/ESA/M. Showalter/SETI Institute)

The ideal starting point to locate Uranus is the "Square of Pegasus". Located about 10 degrees south of the base of the square of Pegasus is a circlet of six mainly 4th magnitude stars that form the southern fish of Pisces. Next move about 20 degrees east of this asterism to the star delta (δ) Psc (mag. +4.4). Located about 5 degrees southwest of δ Psc is Uranus. In the same binocular or telescope wide field view as Uranus is 92 G. Psc (HIP 2954), a magnitude +6.4 star that's slightly fainter than the planet. It's positioned 0.5 degrees southwest of Uranus.

Uranus Finder Chart for October 2013

Uranus Finder Chart for October 2013 - pdf format

At opposition, Uranus is located approx. 19.040 AU or 2848.3 million km (1769.9 million miles) from Earth. On this day the planet is visible all night; it rises in the east when the Sun sets and sets in the west as the Sun rises. With an apparent diameter of only 3.7 arc seconds, small telescopes at high magnification show a small blue-green disk, but even when viewed through large amateur telescopes it's difficult to notice any surface details.

The co-ordinates of Uranus at opposition are:- R.A. = 0hr 39m 12.4s, Dec = +3d 25m 46.3s (J2000)

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The Planets
This Month's Guide
Northern Hemisphere
Evening
Southwest:- Saturn (mag. +0.6)
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Midnight
West:- Saturn
South:- Neptune
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
Morning
West:- Neptune
Southwest:- Uranus
East:- Venus (mag. -4.6), Mars (mag. +1.8), Jupiter (mag. -1.7 middle of month)

Southern Hemisphere
Early Evening
West:- Mercury (mag. 0.0), Saturn
East:- Neptune
Midnight
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
Northeast:- Uranus
Morning
West:- Neptune, Uranus
East:- Venus, Mars, Jupiter (end of month)

Deep Sky
Binoculars/small scopes:-
Messier 13 – M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 5 - M5 - Globular Cluster
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)
Messier 57 - M57 - The Ring Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 27 - M27 - The Dumbbell Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 22 - M22 - Sagittarius Cluster (Globular Cluster)

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