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)


Sky Highlights - May 2017

Mercury
Mercury reaches greatest elongation west on May 17, 2017

Meteor Shower
Eta Aquariids meteor shower peaks on May 5th and 6th, 2017

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for May 2017

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mars (mag. +1.6)
South:- Jupiter (mag. -2.4)
Midnight
Southwest:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.2)
Morning
South:- Saturn
East:- Venus (mag. -4.7)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mars
North:- Jupiter
Midnight
Northwest:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
Morning
Northwest:- Saturn
East:- Venus, Mercury (mag. +2.5 to -0.3), Neptune (mag. +7.9)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Melotte 111 - Mel 111 - The Coma Star Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)

Telescopes:-
Messier 67 - M67 - Open Cluster
Messier 51 - M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 97 - M97 - The Owl Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 101 - M101 - The Pinwheel Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 65 – M65 – Spiral Galaxy
Messier 66 - M66 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
Messier 95 - M95 - Barred Spiral Galaxy
Messier 96 - M96 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4244 - Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4565 - Needle Galaxy - Spiral Galaxy

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