How to spot an unusually bright Uranus in the night sky today

 
Nina Edy
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You should find yourself a good spot, with a pair of binoculars in hand. (Source: Getty)

Old jokes at the ready, for thanks to a series of astronomical coincidences, Uranus will be unusually visible tomorrow. Stop sniggering at the back.

The planet, one of two ice giants in the solar system, will reach opposition today, October 19th - meaning it will sit exactly opposite the sun (2,830m km away), in front of the constellation Pisces. It will thus be visible all night long.

And as opposition also marks Uranus’ closest approach to Earth, it will be at its brightest.

“Its blue-green colour is unmistakeable,” said Jane Houston Jones, from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“It may be bright enough to see with your naked eye - and for sure [with] binoculars.”

If you want to know exactly where to look out for it, “it is best to carefully study a star map of that part of the sky where the planet is located, and then scan that region with binoculars” says Space.com.

This year’s new moon also falls on that day, which will make Uranus far clearer in the night sky.

Want more? The Orionid meteor shower peaks tomorrow, on 20 October - and you won't need binoculars for that.

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