Sky & Telescope diagram

The solar system beyond Saturn has been much in the news in the last year, but just three of its denizens are visible in amateur telescopes. Binoculars readily show Uranus and, with a little more difficulty, Neptune. Pluto normally needs at least an 8-inch telescope and a dark sky. Steady atmospheric seeing matters too. Here we provide finder charts for the easier two of the bunch.

Uranus is in southeastern Aquarius near Phi (φ) Aquarii, an area well shown on the all-sky chart from any November issue of Sky & Telescope. The close-up here has stars to magnitude 8.0, so Uranus (at magnitude 5.9) will be easy to pick out. The planet reaches opposition, the point in the sky directly opposite the Sun, on September 9th.

Neptune sits within a binocular field of Gamma Capricorni. Neptune is magnitude 7.9 most of the year, while its chart goes to 9.0. Click here for a chart. Neptune reaches opposition this year on August 13th.


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