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Uranus Finder Chart 2019

Uranus Conjunctions with other Planets, 2019-2020

Uranus Through The Telescope

Aries & Taurus (Constellation Photos)

The Position of Uranus: 2006 to 2018

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Where is Uranus tonight? This star map shows the path of Uranus through Aries and Taurus from 2019 to 2032

Star map showing the path of Uranus against the background stars of Aries and Taurus from 2019 to 2032, with the position of each opposition date marked. From 2019 through 2022 Uranus describes a series of shallow, Southward-facing loops because the planet is then South of the ecliptic (the individual loops are about 4 wide and are not discernible in this map because of its small scale). From 2023 through 2025 Uranus describes hybrid loops (half loop, half zig-zag) followed by zig-zag formations from 2026 to 2030, the planet crossing to the North of the ecliptic in mid-2029. Uranus then returns to hybrid loops from 2031 through to the end of the period.

The star map applies to observers in the Northern hemisphere (i.e. North is up); for the Southern hemisphere view, click here. The faintest stars shown on the map have an apparent magnitude of about +4.8. Printer-friendly versions of this chart are available for Northern and Southern hemisphere views. Astronomical co-ordinates of Right Ascension (longitude, measured Eastwards in hrs:mins from the First Point of Aries) and Declination (latitude, measured in degrees North or South of the celestial equator) are marked around the border of the chart. Star names shown in yellow-green were officially adopted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2017. Three of the four such star names shown on this chart were drawn from Chinese, Hindu and Mayan mythology (for more details see the IAU's Working Group on Star Names pages).

The above chart will help in finding the general location of the planet throughout the period in question, however a detailed finder chart will be required to pinpoint the planet precisely - of which, see below.

The Position of Uranus in the Night Sky:

2019 to 2032

by Martin J. Powell

After having spent almost nine years positioned in the constellation of Pisces, the Fishes, Uranus entered Aries, the Ram, in April 2018. The planet retrogrades (moves East to West) back into Pisces for a short period from mid-December of that year, before turning direct (West to East) and moving back into Aries in February 2019.

Uranus imaged by John Sussenbach in November 2015 (Image: John Sussenbach/ALPO-Japan)

Uranus imaged by John Sussenbach (Houten, Netherlands) in November 2015 using a 14-inch (355 mm) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope fitted with a CMOS camera and infra-red filter (Image: John Sussenbach / ALPO-Japan)

From 2019 through 2032 Uranus slowly loops its way North-eastwards along the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun, which the Moon and planets follow very closely), entering Taurus, the Bull in May 2024, where it will cross the ascending node of its orbit (moving from South to North of the ecliptic) in May 2029. Whilst in North-eastern Taurus in April 2030, Uranus experiences its Northern hemisphere summer solstice, when its Northern pole faces towards the Earth. The blue-green ice giant enters Gemini, the Twins, in August 2032, where it will reach its most Northerly point of the zodiac in March 2034.

Uranus reaches opposition to the Sun (when it is closest to the Earth and brightest in the sky for the year) every 369.6 days on average, i.e. about 4 days later in each successive year. In any given year the apparent magnitude of the planet varies little, reducing by about 0.2 magnitudes from opposition to superior conjunction. Opposition magnitudes across the period of the star map vary from +5.7 (in 2019) to +5.5 (in 2032). Around all opposition dates, the planet is due South at local midnight in the Northern hemisphere (due North at local midnight in the Southern hemisphere).

The apparent diameter of the planet (its angular size when seen from the Earth) at opposition throughout the period is from 3".7 (3.7 arcseconds, where 1 arcsecond = 1/3600th of a degree) in 2019, increasing to 3".9 in 2032.

Uranus reached aphelion (its furthest point from the Sun) in 2009, when it was positioned at a distant 20.1 Astronomical Units (3,000 million kms or 1.87 thousand million miles) from the Sun. The planet was then at its most poorly-placed orbital position for Earthbound observers. The situation only slowly improves and observers will have to wait until 2050 (when Uranus is in Leo) before the planet reaches perihelion (its closest point to the Sun). Uranus will then be located 18.28 AU (2.73 thousand million kms or 1.7 thousand million miles) from the Sun and will be seen at its brightest and best from Earth; its opposition magnitude will then be +5.3 and its apparent diameter will reach 4".0.

 [Terms in yellow italics are explained in greater detail in an associated article describing planetary movements in the night sky.]

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Uranus Conjunctions with other Planets, 2019 to 2020

Viewed from the orbiting Earth, whenever two planets appear to pass each other in the night sky (a line-of-sight effect) the event is known as a planetary conjunction or appulse. Not all planetary conjunctions will be visible from the Earth, however, because many of them take place too close to the Sun. Furthermore, not all of them will be seen from across the world; the observers' latitude will affect the altitude (angle above the horizon) at which the two planets are seen at the time of the event and the local season will affect the sky brightness at that particular time. A flat, unobstructed horizon will normally be required to observe most of them.

The majority of conjunctions involving Uranus are not spectacular to view because the planet is never brighter than magnitude +5.3, which is barely above the naked-eye limiting magnitude. Twilight quickly renders the planet unobservable (even through binoculars), so conjunctions taking place less than about 20 from the Sun will be difficult or impossible to see. When one considers that Venus is always less than 47 from the Sun, whilst Mercury is always less than about 27 from the Sun, it follows that, whenever either of these planets are involved in conjunctions with Uranus, twilight will usually be a problem, the lighter sky diminishing the visual impact of the conjunction. Under such circumstances, binoculars will nearly always be required to glimpse Uranus as a pale blue-green 'star'. Even when the elongation is favourable, a further problem beckons in that the glare caused by Venus in particular makes it difficult to see the much fainter planet beside it. In such instances (e.g. for the Venus-Uranus conjunction of March 9th 2020) binocular observers may find it easier to position Venus just outside the binocular field of view so that the eye can more comfortably view the distant gas giant.

Most conjunctions between Uranus and the other superior planets (MarsJupiter, Saturn and Neptune) occur at elongations of less than 90, when Uranus is below its brightest magnitude in any given apparition and close to the naked-eye limiting magnitude.

Uranus' most interesting conjunctions take place when the planet is within a few months of opposition, at which times they involve the much brighter planets Mars, Jupiter or Saturn; these events are however very rare. The most recent conjunction of note was between Uranus and Jupiter on January 2nd 2011 - the last of three conjunctions which took place between the two planets during the 2010-11 observing season (for more details, see here). Uranus' next favourable conjunctions with superior planets will be with Jupiter in September 2037 and with Saturn in 2079(!).

Because Uranus is positioned in Aries and Taurus during the period in question, i.e. around 10 to 20 North of the celestial equator, conjunctions during this time are more favourable to observers in the Northern hemisphere than to those in the Southern hemisphere. Owing to the steep angle that the ecliptic presents to the local horizon along this section of the zodiac, evening conjunctions will favour Northern hemisphere observers whilst morning conjunctions will favour Southern hemisphere observers.

Neptune is often considered to be Uranus' planetary 'twin' and in recent decades both have been assigned the term of ice giants. From the viewpoint of the Earth, faster-moving Uranus 'overtook' Neptune when the planets were in Sagittarius in July 1993, at which point they were seen in conjunction. This was the first time the two planets had been in conjunction since they were discovered (Uranus in 1781, Neptune in 1846). Conjunctions between Uranus and Neptune are rare events indeed, occurring about every 172 years; the next one will take place in the year 2164.

The following table lists the conjunctions involving Uranus which take place between 2019 and 2020 at solar elongations of greater than 20. In several cases, other planets are also in the vicinity and these are detailed. Note that, because some of the conjunctions occur in twilight, the planets involved may not appear as bright as their listed magnitude suggests.

Although any given conjunction takes place at a particular instant in time, it is worth pointing out that, because of the planets' relatively slow daily motions, such events are interesting to observe for several days both before and after the actual conjunction date.

 

Table listing Uranus conjunctions with other planets from 2019 to 2020 (Copyright Martin J Powell, 2011/14)

Uranus conjunctions with other planets from 2019 to 2020 The column headed 'UT' is the Universal Time (equivalent to GMT) of the conjunction (in hrs : mins). The separation (column 'Sep') is the angular distance between the two planets, measured relative to Uranus, e.g. on 2019 May 18, Venus is positioned 1.1 South of Uranus at the time shown. The 'Fav. Hem' column shows the Hemisphere in which the conjunction will be best observed (Northern, Southern and/or Equatorial). The expression 'Not high N Lats' indicates that observers at latitudes further North than about 50N will find the conjunction difficult or impossible to observe because of low altitude and/or bright twilight.

In the 'When Visible' column, a distinction is made between Dawn/Morning visibility and Dusk/Evening visibility; the terms Dawn/Dusk refer specifically to the twilight period before sunrise/after sunset, whilst the terms Evening/Morning refer to the period after darkness falls/before twilight begins (some conjunctions take place in darkness, others do not, depending upon latitude). The 'Con' column shows the constellation in which the planets are positioned at the time of the conjunction.

To find the direction in which the conjunctions will be seen on any of the dates in the table, note down the constellation in which the planets are located ('Con' column) on the required date and find the constellation's rising direction (for Dawn/Morning apparitions) or setting direction (for Dusk/Evening apparitions) for your particular latitude in the Rise-Set direction table.

There are in fact two methods of defining a planetary conjunction date: one is measured in Right Ascension (i.e. perpendicular to the celestial equator) and the other is measured along the ecliptic, which is inclined at 23 to the Earth's equatorial plane (this is due to the tilt of the Earth's axis in space). An animation showing how conjunction dates are determined by each method can be found on the Jupiter-Uranus 2010-11 triple conjunction page. Although conjunction dates measured along the ecliptic are technically more accurate (separations between planets can be significantly closer) the Right Ascension method is the more commonly used, and it is the one which is adopted here.

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Photograph of the constellation Taurus, the Bull (click for full-size photo)

Photograph of the constellation Aries, the Ram and the Western part of Taurus,The Bull (click for full-size photo)

Aries and Taurus  Photographs showing the region of the night sky through which Uranus passes during the next decade. In the Aries & Western Taurus photo, stars can be seen down to about magnitude +7.5. In the Taurus photo, the limiting magnitude is about +8 (click on the thumbnails to see the full-size picture) 

  

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Finder Chart for Uranus, 2019

Throughout most of 2019 Uranus can be found in South-western Aries, positioned North-east of the star Torcular (Greek lower-case letter 'omicron' Psc or Omicron Piscium, mag. +4.3) in the 'tail' region of adjacent Pisces, the Fishes. Uranus is unobservable throughout April and the first half of May, during which time it passes through superior conjunction (passing behind the Sun as seen from the Earth) on April 23rd. During the remainder of the year the planet is positioned a short distance North of the star Greek lower-case letter 'xi'1 Ceti (Xi-1 Ceti, mag. +4.3) in Cetus, the Whale.

Uranus finder chart for 2019. Click for full-size image (Copyright Martin J Powell, 2015)

The path of Uranus in South-western Aries during 2019, with positions marked on the first day of each month (click on the thumbnail for the full-size image). A Southern hemisphere view can be found here. Periods when the planet is too close to the Sun to be observable are indicated by a dashed line. Ideally, searches for Uranus should be carried out on Moonless nights, i.e. in the two-week period centred on the New Moon in any given month.

Uranus reaches opposition to the Sun on October 28th 2019 (indicated on the chart by the symbol Opposition symbol) when it shines at magnitude +5.7 and measures 3".7 (3.7 arcseconds) in diameter. The planet is then 18.847 Astronomical Units (2,819 million kms or 1,752 million statute miles) from the Earth.

Much of the star field in the chart should be easily contained within a binocular field of view (which typically ranges from 5 to 9). Stars are shown down to magnitude +8.5. Right Ascension and Declination co-ordinates are marked around the border, for cross-referencing with a star atlas. Printer-friendly (greyscale) versions of the chart are available for Northern and Southern hemisphere views.

Click here to see a 'clean' star map of the area (i.e. without planet path); observers may wish to use the 'clean' star map as an aid to plotting the planet's position on a specific night - in which case, a printable version can be found here.

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The Naked-eye Appearance of Uranus

Planetary Movements through the Zodiac

Mercury

Venus

Mars

Jupiter

Saturn

Uranus

Neptune

Pluto


Credits


Copyright  Martin J Powell  2018


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