Spot Uranus at opposition in the night sky Wednesday (November 9)
On Wednesday (November 9) Uranus will move opposite the sun in an astronomical arrangement called “opposition.” The distant ice giant and seventh planet from our sun, Uranus, will be visible most of the night and will be at its highest point around midnight.
For New York City skywatchers, Uranus in opposition starts at 6:33 p.m. EST (2333 GMT) according to In the air (opens in new tab)when the ice giant will appear in the constellation at 21 degrees above the eastern horizon Ram. (Remember: your fist at arm’s length equates to about 10 degrees.)
It will rise to 65 degrees above the southern horizon at 11:35 p.m. EST (0435 GMT on Nov. 10). Uranus opposition will no longer be visible on Thursday (Nov. 10) at 4:38 a.m. EST (0938 GMT) when it dips below 21 degrees on the western horizon.
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The match between the two kicks off around 4:23 p.m. EST (2023 GMT) and becomes visible over the New York City sky at night around 6:06 p.m. EST (2206 GMT), according to the In the air (opens in new tab).
The seventh planet of the sunUranus is an ice giant composed primarily of an icy mix of water, ammonia and methane, the latter compound being responsible for giving the planet its distinctive blue appearance.
At the same time as Uranus reaches opposition, it will also come closest to Earth, known as its perigee. At the moment, the solar system be aligned such that Uranus and Soil are on the same side of the sun. This means that the ice giant will be at its brightest in the night sky.
While Uranus will appear slightly brighter at opposition, at a magnitude of about 5.7, it will not appear much larger in the sky, meaning it will only be visible in favorable viewing conditions with binoculars or a telescope as a small twinkling point of light.
This is because the ice giant is a huge distance from our planet, with Uranus about 2.8 billion kilometers from Earth at the time of opposition.
This great distance from the inner solar system and the sun at its heart means that it takes Uranus about 84 Earth years to complete one orbit. That means Uranus has made fewer than three orbits around the sun since becoming the first planet to be discovered using a telescope by astronomer William Herschel in March 1781.
After this astronomical event, in which Uranus will be visible from sunset to sunrise, the planet will reach its highest point in the sky every subsequent night about 4 minutes earlier.
This means that Uranus gradually becomes less visible in the hours before sunrise and remains visible for several months in the evening.
The ice giant planet will then face the sun on November 13, 2023.
Editor’s Note: If you take a photo of Uranus in opposition and would like to share it with the readers of Space.com, please send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to [email protected]
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