Uranus reaches peak visibility tonight

Though you can catch a glimpse of the gas giant with your naked eye, binoculars or a telescope make the task much easier.
By | Published: October 23, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Though Uranus’ unique blue-green color is visible even through amateur telescopes, this view from the Keck II Telescope also captures delicate cloud structures, as well as the planet’s dark rings.
Lawrence Sromovsky (UW-Madison)/W.M. Keck Observatory
Uranus reaches opposition and peak visibility tonight.

Opposition officially arrives at 9 p.m. EDT, when the outer planet lies opposite the Sun in our sky. This means it rises at sunset, climbs highest in the south around 1 a.m. local daylight time, and sets at sunrise. (From 40° north latitude, Uranus peaks at an altitude of 61°, the highest it has appeared at opposition since February 1962.)

The magnitude 5.7 planet lies in the southwestern corner of Aries, just over the border from Pisces. In the nights around opposition, you can find it 2.8° northeast of 4th-magnitude Omicron (ο) Piscium.

Although Uranus shines brightly enough to glimpse with the naked eye under a dark sky, use binoculars to locate it initially. A telescope reveals the planet’s blue-green disk, which spans 3.7″.

See what else you should look for in the night sky with our weekly guide: The sky this week.