Uranus at opposition

2013 Oct 3

Uranus will be well placed for observation, lying in the constellation Pisces, far above the horizon for much of the night.

Regardless of your location on the Earth, Uranus will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.

This optimal positioning occurs when Uranus makes its closest approach to the point directly opposite to the Sun in the sky – an event termed opposition, the exact moment of which will be 14:58 BST. Since the Sun reaches its greatest distance below the horizon at midnight, the point opposite to it is highest in the sky at the same time.

At around the same time that Uranus passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth – termed its perigee – making it appear at its brightest and largest in the night sky. This happens because when Uranus lies opposite to the Sun in the night sky, the Solar System is lined up so that Uranus, the Earth and the Sun lie in a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as Uranus.