From the August 2018 issue

Searching for obscurity

What makes us look up?
By | Published: August 28, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

During the next three months, Uranus shines at an unusual magnitude 5.7. If you’re in a city, that’s still too faint for the unaided eye. But here in my isolated hometown of Willow, New York, population 156, Uranus’ rare brightness provokes tail-wagging excitement.

If you can visit rural friends between now and Thanksgiving, you, too, can see Uranus with no optical aid. I hope that this past spring you already observed the asteroid Vesta with your naked eye, since it reached an easy magnitude of 5.5. And while you’re in the country, count the Pleiades. Six are obvious, but from dark locales, 11 are not difficult to find if you have good eyesight.

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