Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

0 subscribers and counting ...

How to locate planet Uranus

Tonight – January 23, 2018 – the waxing crescent moon is roughly one day shy of its first quarter phase and shines close to the 7th planet, Uranus, on the sky’s dome. Uranus is located in the direction to the constellation Pisces the Fishes. This faint planet – barely bright enough to be glimpsed with the eye alone – will remain within Pisces’ borders for the rest of this year, but the moon will leave Pisces after a few more days.

That means you can use tonight’s moon location – and links to detailed charts and other info, found in this post – to try to find Uranus.

Just know that the night of January 23 is probably not the best night to look for Uranus. You’ll have a tough time glimpsing it with the unaided eye in the moon’s glare.

Just read on, maybe bookmark some links, and then, when the moon leaves the evening sky, you’ll know where to look.

First of all, notice the graceful V shape of Pisces. If you have a dark sky, which you’ll need anyway in order to see Uranus, you’ll easily make out the V of Pisces on the sky’s dome. You can star-hop to Uranus via the 4th-magnitude stars Omicron Piscium and Epsilon Piscium plus the fifth-magnitude star Zeta Piscium. See them on the chart below?

Click here if you’re not familiar with Greek letter symbols

View larger. | If you’re not sure how to find Pisces, maybe you can find the Great Square of Pegasus. It’s your jumping off point for finding Pisces’ place in the great celestial sea. Also, notice the Circlet in Pisces. It’s very noticeable in a dark sky. Notice that Omicron, Epsilon and Zeta are located near the ecliptic.

Okay … got Omicron, Epsilon and Zeta Piscium?

Now you just need to know Uranus’ location with respect to these stars, for the current observing season (June 2017-March 2018). Best place to find that is nearly always skyandtelescope.com. People with good vision – and good charts, like this one – do see Uranus with the unaided eye on dark, moonless nights.

Be sure to click into the full chart, but here’s the relevant piece of it – for finding Uranus – below.

Ice giants Uranus and Neptune from skyandtelescope.com

Just remember, with the moon waxing to full now, unaided eye glimpses of Uranus won’t be likely in the coming nights.

We hope the charts on this page will help you find Uranus later!

Uranus was the first planet to be discovered via telescope, by William Herschel on March 13, 1781. At a distance of 20 astronomical units from Earth at present, this world is pretty easy to see through binoculars – that is, if you know right where to look.

Voyager 2 is still the only spacecraft to have visited the outer planets Uranus and Neptune. Here is Uranus as seen by Voyager 2 in 1986. To the spacecraft, the planet appeared as a featureless blue ball. Image via NASA.

Bottom line: As darkness falls on January 23, 2018, the moon and planet Uranus both reside in front of the constellation Pisces the Fishes.

EarthSky astronomy kits are perfect for beginners. Order today from the EarthSky store


Bruce McClure