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Ice giant Uranus comes to opposition on September 29th among the stars of Pisces. The distant planet shines at magnitude 5.7, which means that under dark skies it is a faint but attainable naked eye object. However, it will be virtually impossible to spot Uranus with the naked eye at opposition since the almost full Moon will interfere. It is better to search a week or two before, when you can star-hop to the planet under a dark, moonless sky. If you still can't manage to locate Uranus, use binoculars or a small telescope, which makes it a very easy target.

Uranus as imaged by Voyager 2 in January 1986 (NASA)

The planet starts the month in Cetus before crossing the border into Pisces. During this time it travels westwards towards and then past star 44 Piscium. The two objects are almost identical in brightness, with 44 Piscium at magnitude 5.8 and Uranus at magnitude 5.7. During the last week of the month they are positioned very close together. The finder chart below shows how to find Uranus during September.

Uranus during September 2012

Uranus during September 2012 - pdf format

At opposition, Uranus is located approx. 19.061 AU or 2851.5 million km (1771.8 million miles) from Earth. It has an apparent diameter of 3.7 arc seconds. Small telescopes at high magnification show a small blue-green disk, but even when viewed through large amateur telescopes it is difficult to notice surface details.