October 13th, 2015
Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun, is at opposition and at its best visibility of the year. If an object is at opposition, it means it appears opposite the Sun in the sky and therefore rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. It’s consequently due south at around midnight (1 a.m. if your location is currently observing Summer Time.)
To see the planet, you’ll probably need at least a pair of binoculars – although those with good eyes and very clear, dark skies may be able to see it without any help at all. Unfortunately, it’s a faint planet in a faint part of the sky. The nearest “bright” star is Epsilon Piscis; by looking below the square of Pegasus, to the south-east, you can follow the crooked line of stars to Epsilon.
Binoculars, a finderscope or a small telescope should then reveal the planet. At low power, it appears as an unusual (and distinct) pale blue-green “star.” When the magnification is increased by just a little, to only 25x or 30x, a tiny disc can be glimpsed. Unfortunately, unlike Jupiter and Saturn, there’s little else to see here – but at least you can cross it off your astronomical bucket list!
All Astronomical Events for October 13th, 2015
00:05 UT – New Moon. (Virgo, not visible.)
05:18 UT – The just-past new Moon passes Spica. (Virgo, not visible.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
All times are in Universal Time (UTC). To convert the time to your timezone, click here.
Astronomical events taken from 2015: An Astronomical Year, available in Kindle and paperback formats from Amazon in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. Night sky simulations created using Mobile Observatory for Android devices. Uranus image courtesy NASA/JPL
2015: An Astronomical Year
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