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Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun, reaches opposition on October 19th. The distant "Ice Giant" shines at mag. +5.7 and is located in the constellation of Pisces. It's marginally bright enough to seen with the naked eye and easy to spot with binoculars and small scopes.

Uranus as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope (credit:- NASA/Lamy)

Uranus is positioned close to the Aries constellation border. It's about 15 degrees south and 30 degrees east of the centre of the Great Square of Pegasus and a couple of degrees west and slightly north of omicron Piscium (ο Psc - mag. +4.3). Further to the northeast is Taurus, which contains first magnitude orange star Aldebaran and naked eye open clusters, the Pleiades and Hyades.

Uranus is visible all night during October. It rises above the eastern horizon around sunset, reaching its highest point in the sky at midnight, and then sets in the west as the Sun reappears. At opposition, the planet is approx. 18.915 AU (2,829.6 million kilometres or 1,758.3 million miles) from the Earth. With an apparent diameter of 3.7 arc seconds, small telescopes at medium to high powers will reveal a small bluish-green disk. However, when viewed through even the largest of amateur scopes, it's difficult to spot much detail.

The finder chart below shows the position of Uranus at opposition (R.A.= 01h 38m 28s, Dec.= +09d 35m 29s). Since it moves relatively little with respect to the background stars, the chart is valid also for some time before and after opposition.

Uranus opposition finder chart on October 19, 2017 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Uranus opposition finder chart on October 19, 2017 (credit:- freestarcharts) - pdf format

See also

The Planets this Month - October 2017