Have you ever seen Uranus?
If so, you’ll know that it looks just like a star and you might not even have realized that it was a planet. But if you see it with a telescope, you’ll see that it’s got a totally different appearance, so yes – you can achieve your goal of seeing Uranus in the night sky.
Can you see Uranus with the naked eye?
Sometimes you will be able to see Uranus, such as when it’s shining at magnitude +5.7, but even then it’s barely visible on clear nights unless you use an instrument.
So, make sure you have your telescope handy! Once you’re ready to go hunting for Uranus, here’s what you need to know about finding Uranus with a telescope.
Why Is Uranus So Hard To Find?
It’s the third biggest planet so it might seem strange that you can’t see Uranus so easily. But this is because it’s located far away from the sun and it’s also dim.
However, by knowing where you should look with your telescope, you’ll be able to see it – and trust me, it’s really worth trying.
How To Find Uranus
First things first, you’ll need to use a telescope that’s got a magnification of 100x or higher. This will show you that Uranus looks like a small disk, not a star-like pinprick of light. You need this level of magnification so that you don’t skim over the planet and just assume it’s a star.
You need to ensure that Uranus is above the horizon in order to be able to see it. Here’s a quick guide to ensure that you choose the right time to see it: Uranus is easier to find early in the year, usually around June.
But be prepared for getting out of bed before dawn in order to see it. By August, it will be visible for the whole night.
What Telescope Is Best?
Magnification aside, there are other important features you need in a telescope if you want to see Uranus.
- You need a long-focal telescope. Focal length can be described as the distance from the telescope’s lens or mirror where the light comes into focus. A longer one means that you’ll have a narrow field of view but the celestial objects in it will seem larger. This will help to make Uranus more visible.
- Your telescope should have a large aperture. The aperture of your telescope basically collects the light, so you want it to be as large as possible, especially when you’re trying to view a distant planet. You’ll be able to see more details by choosing a telescope with an aperture of at least 200mm (eight inches).
A note about magnification: Earlier, we mentioned that you need a high magnification in order to see Uranus.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that there is a drawback associated with this: your view of the planet could be obstructed by “seeing.” This is a term used to describe turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere that produces a shimmering effect on the image.
It’s therefore a good idea to try different eyepieces when viewing Uranus, such as Barlow lenses, to try to find the best magnification that works.
These lenses can magnify what you’re looking at by double or triple. When viewed through a small telescope, you’re likely to see Uranus looking slightly green in color and it will look like an elliptical disk because of its fast rotation, as Astronomy reports.
Consider using a color filter. Color filters can help you to see Uranus in more of its glory.
These can be attached onto the lens of your telescope. The interesting thing about Uranus is that it’s blueish green in color when viewed through a telescope that has an aperture of about six to eight inches.
The less clearly you can see it, the less color you’ll see on it. If you use a color filter, this will help you to enhance its color, and some good options to try include a #12 yellow, #38A dark blue, and #58 green filters, as Agena Astro reports.
Extra Tips For Locating Uranus
- It’s a good idea to make use of a Go To mount. This type of mount has a motor. It works by pointing the telescope at a celestial object that you select, and it’s controlled by a computer. It will help you to find Uranus, and it’s especially beneficial for beginners.
- Star and Telescope provides a sky chart that can help you track Uranus if you don’t have a Go To mount. This is a valuable resource to help you find it easier.
- The Sky Live is also a fantastic website that will show you where Uranus is currently located. You can also find ways to locate other celestial bodies.
How To Star Hop To Uranus
If you don’t know what star hopping is, it’s basically when you use stars that you can see to help you find other celestial objects in the eye that aren’t as visible.
You can do this to find Uranus. In fact, it’s a fun way to enjoy astronomy from your backyard! Here’s how to do it when Uranus is opposite from the sun in our sky. This is when it’s at its brightest and closest to the earth, so you’ll be able to spot it a little better.
- Start by locating the four stars that produce the Square of Pegasus. It’s quite large so don’t let that make you miss it! Its four sides are about 15 degrees long.
- Focus on the two stars that produce the bottom part of the square. This is one side of a south-pointing equilateral triangle, as Space reports.
- The southern part of the triangle is the Circlet – this is a section of the Pisces constellation that contains dim stars.
- Look to the Circlet’s left. Here you’ll see a string of stars. Now, look carefully and you’ll see that a section of the string links the two “fish” of Pisces together.
- Find the two stars in the string – you can’t miss them because they’re brighter than the others.
- Approximately halfway between the two bright stars you’ll see Uranus.
You’ll know when you’ve seen it because it will be a bit brighter than other stars around it, and you’ll see a slight blue-green color. To be 100-percent sure that you’ve found Uranus, check it again after a few days and you’ll see it has moved to the right.
How To See Uranus’s Moons
Uranus has 27 moons! You might be wondering if you’ll be able to see them all. If you have a small telescope, then this won’t be possible. In fact, only four of the moons can be seen with a moderate to large telescope.
Its moons Titania and Oberon have been spotted with telescopes that have apertures that are about eight inches, but other moons such as Ariel and Umbriel are more difficult to see because they lie closer to the planet’s light, Sky and Telescope reports.
However, the site also has a Uranus Moon Observing Tool that you can use to see if you’d like to try your luck with spotting some moons.
Is Uranus made of ice?
Uranus is almost completely made up of a dense fluid of icy materials, such as ammonia, methane, and water, that are located above its rocky core.
Why was Uranus only discovered in 1781?
It wasn’t that people couldn’t find it – in fact, they’d probably seen it long before then – but everyone just assumed that what they were looking at was a star.
Has Uranus ever been visited?
Amazingly, there’s only been one visit to the icy planet and it was done by a spacecraft called Voyager 2.
If you think you won’t be able to see Uranus, you’re mistaken – you might even be able to see it with your naked eye, although that is a bit of a long shot. But no worries. With a telescope at hand, you’ll be able to see Uranus’s trademark green appearance.
Where do you start?
In this article, we’ve looked at how to find Uranus through a telescope as well as what you can expect to find when you take a look. We’ve also provided you with extra tips, such as getting your hands on star charts, to help you on your journey.