Tonight, January 23, 2018, the planet Uranus is uniquely placed in the constellation Pisces within 6 degrees almost due north of the waxing crescent moon. Although the planet’s brightness or magnitude is at the threshold for naked-eye observation, a modest pair of binoculars is necessary to reveal the planet as a greenish-blue “star” and a telescope will be required to see the tiny greenish-blue disk.
The planet Uranus tonight as it would appear in a large amateur telescope. Take note of Uranus’ faint ring system and its five principal moons,Titania, Umbriel, Miranda, Ariel and Oberon. Please note that the rings are not visible in anything but a large professional telescope.
The celestial equator (the projection of the Earth’s equator onto the sky) and the ecliptic. Note that the angular difference between the celestial equator and the ecliptic is identically equal to the earth’s axial tilt.
Locating Uranus in Tonight’s Sky
A sequence of views to the south-southwest an hour after sunset tonight illustrating the waxing crescent moon in Pisces and the placement of Uranus in tonight’s sky. Note the placement of the moon and the planet, both in proximity to the ecliptic (curved, red line) as would be expected. The ecliptic represents the path of the sun as it appears to traverse the sky as the Earth moves in its yearly orbit around our home star. This path, when projected onto the sky in two dimensions, represents the “plane of the ecliptic”. Illustrations via Stellarium.
Wide-field binocular view of tonight’s waxing crescent moon and Uranus.
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