© NASA/Voyager 2

Uranus at opposition

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

Uranus will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Pisces. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight local time.

From Fairfield, it will be visible between 20:22 and 05:01. It will become accessible around 20:22, when it rises to an altitude of 20° above your eastern horizon. It will reach its highest point in the sky at 00:43, 52° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible around 05:01 when it sinks below 21° above your western horizon.

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Uranus opposite the Sun

This optimal positioning occurs when Uranus is almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky. Since the Sun reaches its greatest distance below the horizon at midnight, the point opposite to it is highest in the sky at the same time.

At around the same time that Uranus passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth – termed its perigee – making it appear at its brightest and largest.

This happens because when Uranus lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that Uranus, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as Uranus.

In practice, however, Uranus orbits much further out in the solar system than the Earth – at an average distance from the Sun of 19.29 times that of the Earth, and so its angular size does not vary much as it cycles between opposition and solar conjunction.

On this occasion, Uranus will lie at a distance of 19.04 AU, and its disk will measure 3.7 arcsec in diameter, shining at magnitude 5.7. Even at its closest approach to the Earth, however, it is not possible to distinguish it as more than a star-like point of light without the aid of a telescope.

Uranus in coming weeks

Over the weeks following its opposition, Uranus will reach its highest point in the sky four minutes earlier each night, gradually receding from the pre-dawn morning sky while remaining visible in the evening sky for a few months.

A chart of the path of Uranus across the sky in 2013 can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.

The position of Uranus at the moment it passes opposition will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Uranus 00h39m00s +03°25' Pisces 5.7 3.7"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 03 October 2013
Sunrise
06:51
Sunset
18:31
Twilight ends
20:02
Twilight begins
05:19

28-day old moon
Waning Crescent

2%

28 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 09:03 14:10 19:18
Venus 10:48 15:32 20:16
Moon 05:32 11:33 17:34
Mars 02:46 09:45 16:43
Jupiter 23:53 07:23 14:50
Saturn 09:18 14:36 19:53
All times shown in EDT.

Source

The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

03 Oct 2013  –  Uranus at opposition
07 Oct 2014  –  Uranus at opposition
11 Oct 2015  –  Uranus at opposition
15 Oct 2016  –  Uranus at opposition

Image credit

© NASA/Voyager 2

Fairfield

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

41.14°N
73.26°W
EDT

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