Uranus isn’t the farthest planet from Earth, but it does stretch a considerable distance. Because of this, Uranus can be a tricky planet to spot. If you’re looking for the ice giant in tonight’s sky, here’s how to see it.
1. Utilize binoculars or a telescope.
Very rarely is Uranus bright enough to spot with the naked eye. You’ll be better off breaking out the telescope or binoculars right away to get the best view. If you have a computerized telescope, you should be able to find Uranus easily.
2. Look towards Aries or Taurus.
Since Uranus is so far away, it tends to remain in the same portion of the sky for many years (at least, as far as we can tell from here). From 2019 to 2023 Uranus will be in the constellation Aries. In 2024 it will pass into Taurus and move through it until 2032.
3. Wait until opposition.
Just like Jupiter, Uranus regularly reaches opposition, which means it’s in a direct line with the Earth and the Sun. This allows us to see it more easily. Every 369 or so days, Uranus reaches opposition. Utilize online resources to find out when opposition is, then look to the southern sky to spot the planet.
4. Stargazing apps are your friend.
Most of the other planets are fairly easy to find without the help of an app. Uranus, since it is so faint, is more difficult to distinguish from surrounding stars. If you’re having trouble deciding if you’re looking at the planet or a faraway star, turn to a stargazing app to determine one way or the other.