Moon sweeps past planet Uranus | 8/20/2019 | Bruce McClure
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Our chart – above – shows the moon in the early morning sky on August 21, 22 and 23. The green line represents the ecliptic, or approximate path of the sun, moon and planets across our sky. On the mornings of August 21 and 22, you’ll find the waxing gibbous moon sweeping close to the planet Uranus. They’ll be up late at night, too, but low in the sky. You’ll have a better view of them in the wee hours, or before dawn breaks.

Of course, the moon and urnaus are nowhere near each other in space. The moon, our closest celestial neighbor, lies a little less than 250,000 miles (400,000 km) from Earth. Uranus, the seventh planet outward from the sun, lodges well over 7,000 times the moon’s distance from us.

Uranus - Faint - Star - Binoculars - World

Although Uranus looks like a faint star, even through binoculars, that’s only because this distant world resides in the outskirts of our solar system, at about 19 astronomical units (AU) from the sun. Uranus’ diameter is actually 4 times greater than Earth’s diameter, and its surface area some 16 times greater than that of Earth.

Most of us need binoculars and a sky chart to see this faint world that lurks at the threshold of visibility in our sky. Even through binoculars, though, Uranus appears no brighter than a dim star. You’ll need a telescope magnifying at least 100 times and a steady sky free of atmospheric disturbance to resolve Uranus into a tiny disk.

Uranus - Front - Constellation - Ram - Years

Uranus will reside in front of the constellation Aries the Ram for years to come, so a good familiarity with this constellation is your ticket to locating this faint world. For a detailed sky chart of Aries, click on The Sky Live; and for a sky chart showing Uranus’ position from 2019 to 2032, click on Naked...
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