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.

Presently (Feb-Mar 2017) the planet can be seen above the western horizon about an hour after the sunset. At that time we have Venus, shining  brilliantly, which can be spotted within 30 minutes after the sunsets. Right above Venus one can see The Red planet, Mars.   Uranus is less than 5° from Mars.

On the celestial tapestry, Mars is actually moving towards Uranus.  If you look at Mars through your pair of binoculars on 20th you will find a bit fainter star Epsilon Piscium to its north (or right). Then On 24th Mars passes less than ¼°  of star Zeta Piscium, a beautiful double star. Zeta Piscium is known in India as Revati nakshtra.

Then on Feb. 26 Mars will be just about ½° from Uranus.

Uranus2017Febbw.jpg

If you think you have doubts about locating Uranus then this is what you may do.  You can take help of the map above given above to find Uranus. Till about March 6th the angular separation between the two planets will be less then 5°, that is to say that Mars and Uranus can be seen in the same field of your binoculars.

Then Uranus, though a pair of binoculars or a small telescope would look like a point object but it will be very distinct from other stars.  It would not appear to twink. Through 150 mm (6 inch) you will certainly notice a clear disk with blueish hue.

A Note on ζ Piscium (=  86 Piscium) . It is a triple star system. Zeta Psc A and B are visual binaries separated by 23 arc sec and B and C are spectroscopic binary.  Zeta Psc is at +5.21 mag with sp.class A7IV quite white and  Zera Psc is +6.44 mag, sp type F7V (rather yellow).

visualBinary_zeta Psc