Uranus reaches opposition on 9 November, making this the ideal time to observe the distant planetary giant.

Advertisement

We would normally say that Uranus, being able to reach a peak altitude of 53° when due south, is the best-placed planet to observe from the UK.

However, this is currently untrue, as Mars is able to appear higher this month, and is getting better and better as we approach Mars opposition.

Get more stargazing tips by listening to our monthly Star Diary podcast or signing up to the BBC Sky at Night Magazine e-newsletter.

Read our complete monthly guide on what's in the night sky tonight.

How to find Uranus in the night sky

chart showing the location of uranus throughout november 2022
Chart showing the location of Uranus throughout November 2022. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Uranus is shining at mag. +5.6 in November 2022 and should be visible from a dark site using nothing more than your eyes, in theory.

In practice this can be quite a hard task to achieve but if you want to give it a go, first identify Botein (Delta (δ) Arietis) and Epsilon (ε) Arietis, which shine at magnitudes +4.3 and +4.6 respectively.

Imagine them as the side of an equilateral triangle, with the third vertice to the southwest.

This is marked by two dim stars, mag. +5.6 Rho (ρ) and mag. +5.8 45Z Arietis.

At the start of November these close stars (21 arcminutes between them) point south to Uranus.

Uranus through a telescope

Uranus and its brighter moons, imaged in January 2022. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Uranus and its brighter moons, imaged in January 2022. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Through a telescope, Uranus has a 3.8-arcsecond disc with a distinctive green hue to it, but there’s little in the way of detail that can be seen visually.

Imaging setups may be able to detect banding on the planet using filters that let longer (red) wavelengths pass.

Here you’ll need to be patient and collect a considerable number of frames for stacking.

In addition, extended exposures may be used to reveal the planet’s brighter moons, Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon. Miranda is close to the planet and a tough target.

A Uranian Family by Harvey Scoot, Braintree, UK. Equipment: C14 Edge HD, ZWO120MMS with 610nm longpass filter.
A Uranian Family by Harvey Scoot, Braintree, UK. Equipment: C14 Edge HD, ZWO120MMS with 610nm longpass filter.

How to see the planets in November 2022

The phase and relative sizes of the planets this month. Each planet is shown with south at the top, to show its orientation through a telescope
The phase and relative sizes of the planets this month. Each planet is shown with south at the top, to show its orientation through a telescope

Uranus

  • Best time to see: 9 November, 00:00 UT
  • Altitude: 54º
  • Location: Aries
  • Direction: South
  • Features: Greenish hue, atmospheric banding, moons
  • Recommended equipment: 150mm or larger

Mars

  • Best time to see: 30 November, 00:40 UT
  • Altitude: 62°
  • Location: Taurus
  • Direction: South

Mars rises around 18:45 UT at the start of November and is able to reach its highest position in the sky, due south, in darkness all month long. Approaching opposition on 8 December, it is now a very attractive planet to view through a telescope.

On 1 November Mars presents a disc with an apparent diameter of 15 arcseconds and shines at mag. –1.2. By the end of the month these values will have increased significantly, Mars presenting an apparent disc size of 17 arcseconds and appearing very bright at mag. –1.8. A bright 89%-lit waxing gibbous Moon lies near the planet on the evening of 11 November.

Jupiter

  • Best time to see: 1 November, 21:30 UT
  • Altitude: 35°
  • Location: Pisces
  • Direction: South

Bright evening planet Jupiter remains well-positioned all month. On the night of 4/5 November, it is joined by an 86%-lit waxing Moon lying 2.7° to the south. On 1 November Jupiter shines at mag. –2.7, which only drops to –2.5 by the end of the month. It reaches its highest position of 35° as seen from the centre of the UK, under dark sky conditions all month. Jupiter currently lies southeast of the Circlet asterism in Pisces.

Saturn

  • Best time to see: 1 November, 18:50 UT
  • Altitude: 21°
  • Location: Capricornus
  • Direction: South

Shining at mag. +0.8 at the start of November, Saturn reaches its peak altitude, due south, under dark sky conditions for much of the month, although the evening twilight encroaches towards the end of November. A 55%-lit waxing Moon lies near Saturn on 1 November and as a 39%-lit waxing crescent on the evening of 29 November.

Neptune

  • Best time to see: 1 November, 21:00 UT
  • Altitude: 33°
  • Location: Aquarius
  • Direction: South

Neptune is well-placed for UK observation, able to reach its peak altitude, due south, under dark sky conditions all month long. Mag. +7.9 Neptune and –2.5 Jupiter appear 6.1° apart mid-month.

Mercury

At the start of November, Mercury shines at around mag. –1.0 but rises less than 30 minutes before the Sun. It reaches superior conjunction on 8 November, lining up with the Sun on the far side of its orbit. Its emergence into the evening sky isn’t particularly favourable, the planet being low after sunset and setting not long after the Sun.

Venus

Venus passed superior conjunction on 22 October and remains very close to the Sun at the start of November. It sets just 30 minutes after the Sun on 30 November and will probably remain unseen right through the month.

Advertisement

This guide originally appeared in the November 2022 issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine.

Authors

Pete Lawrence, astronomer and BBC The Sky at Night presenter.
Pete LawrenceAstronomer and presenter

Pete Lawrence is an experienced astronomer and astrophotographer, and a presenter on BBC's The Sky at Night.