Where you can find Uranus in the night sky

Uranus is one of the giant planets of the Solar System, but shines dimly because it is so far away. Nevertheless, it is easy to find Uranus with binoculars, if you know just where to look.

Wide angle chart
A wide-angle view of the region of sky where you will find Uranus. Image credit: Skymania

This page will be updated regularly to help you find Uranus in the years ahead. (In theory, it is just bright enough to spot with the unaided eye from a completely clear, dark location because it is just above the limit of naked-eye visibility.)

The planet is currently (2017) in Pisces, so you will not be able to find it in the spring when the Sun is in that constellation and Uranus is on its far side.

Uranus becomes visible again before dawn in the early summer and will be visible for the remainder of the year in the evening sky.

Our main picture shows the region of sky where our target planet lies. To find Uranus, look for the string of stars marking Andromeda which lead into the Great Square of Pegasus, the bottom of which is show standing on its corner.

Beneath these constellations, and to the right of the familiar three-star asterism in Aries, lies the constellation of Pisces, the fishes, which is made up of generally faint stars.

But in a clear, dark sky, it is possible to see that they make up a pattern with two diverging strands. In mid-October, Uranus may be found along the track indicated in the more detailed chart.

Chart for finding Uranus
A close-up of the region of Pisces where Uranus can be found in the second half of 2017. Image credit: Skymania

What can I see of Uranus?

Once you find Uranus in the night sky, it will appear obvious in binoculars or a small telescope. But what will you see? Well, with binoculars, just a bright star really, and its blue-green hue may be apparent. A small telescope with a reasonable magnification, say 200x, will reveal that, unlike a star, it shows a tiny disk.

Don’t expect to see any of Uranus’s moons with a small telescope. You really need at least a 20cm (8in) reflector to pick out the brightest two, Oberon and Miranda. But at least Uranus itself is easy to see!

Doing the next few months, Uranus will continue to be well placed for seeking out in the evening sky. Remember to invert our chart if you are trying to find it from southern latitudes.

Over the weeks and months, as Uranus gradually moves against the starry background, you may note how it changes direction for a time. This so-called retrograde motion, shared by all the outer planets, is due to the Earth overtaking them as we make our own journey around the Sun.

Uranus is famous for being extremely windy and the coldest world in the Solar System. Planetary astronomers have been urging space agencies to send a mission to probe Uranus and discover its secrets.

Read more about Uranus here.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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