Finding Uranus

Uranus is the first planet to be ‘discovered‘. It was discovered, only after the advent of the telescope,  by British astronomer William Herschel on March 13, 1781,  completely by chance. It was later realized that the planet is actually bright enough to be seen with the naked eyes. May that be,  it is quite easy to locate the planet using a pair of binoculars.

October 2017 to February 2018 is a good time to observe this planet.  By first week of October Uranus rises by about sunset and continues to rise early.  By end Jan ’18 it is would have crossed the meridian at sunset. It is still available for about 5 hours.

Uranus is just about 8 degrees for γ Arietis (or Mesartim ) a beautiful pair of stars separated by 7.6 seconds of arc.  Their apparent combined magnitude is 3.86, the magnitudes of individual stars are 4.58 and 4.64.

It would not be difficult to find Uranus.  α Ari = Hamal,  β Ari = Sheratan and γ Ari = Mesartim are easy to locate. Then star hop to η Pis and go to ο Pis and from there to Uranus.

UranusFindingA

Use this map to find ο, ν and μ Piscium and then confirm with α and then use the two maps given below to find Uranus

 

UranusFindingB1

The map above gives positions of Uranus from 1st Oct till 9th Jan and the below one give 29th Dec till 8th of Apr.  As you can see from the map Uranus would be the brightest object after Omicron Piscium.  Even through a small telescope one can make out that this object is not like a star but has a small disk shape. Through 150+ scope one can clearly make out bluish/greenish tinge of the planet.

UranusFindingB2

 

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