Uranus will shine at its brightest tonight so we’ll all have a good look

Uranus, computer artwork.
Just to be clear, we’re talking about the planet here (Science Photo Library)

If you’ve ever wanted to get a really good look at Uranus, tonight’s the night.

That’s because the planet (seventh from the sun, get your mind out of the gutter) will reach its peak brightness for the year tonight, November 4.

The gassy and unique alien world will reach the closest point to Earth in its orbit and hit what is called ‘opposition’.

This means, from the vantage point of Earth, it will be directly opposite the sun and reflecting the most light possible.

At 2.8 billion kilometers away, you probably can’t reach out and touch it – but if conditions are clear you will be able to see it with the naked eye.

‘Although Uranus is not considered a visible planet, at opposition it is bright enough to be visible for someone with excellent eyesight under very dark skies and ideal conditions,’ wrote the experts at Nasa.

‘If you know where to look, it should be visible with binoculars or a backyard telescope.’

You heard the space geniuses; get out in the backyard and start probing Uranus with a telescope.

If you need to know where to look, you’ll spot it to the right of the Pleiades constellation and just below Aries.

This year, the planet’s opposition comes during the Taurid meteor shower, so you may even spot a couple of shooting stars while you’re out there.

If you want a couple of interesting facts about Uranus, it’s actually got rings like Saturn, they’re just much smaller. It’s also lying on its side, which means the rings appear to be circling the planet vertically. Experts reckon this may be due to an ancient collision that knocked the planet off kilter.

Uranus with its thin rings circling the planet vertically (Nasa)
Uranus with its thin rings circling the planet vertically (Nasa)

It was discovered by astronomer William Herschel who spotted it from his garden in Bath with a homemade telescope back in 1781. He originally thought it might be a comet.

Now, 240 years later, we’re just as transfixed by this giant blue planet out in the Solar System.

Everyone just really wants to see Uranus, and that’s the bottom line.

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