Uranus and Neptune, the so-called ice giants, are the only major planets in our solar system that aren't easily visible to the unaided eye. This article gives directions for finding Uranus and Neptune from June 2014 through February or March 2015. If you've never seen these planets before, you might want to read our general instructions first.
Neptune and Uranus are in Aquarius and Pisces, respectively, throughout this period. Uranus is now just north of the celestial equator, and Neptune is considerably farther south — so neither gets very high in the sky for people at mid-northern latitudes. So it's important to make the best of the relatively short window of opportunity for viewing them.
Click here to download a detailed, printable chart for Uranus and Neptune in PDF format.
Both planets become visible in bright morning twilight sometime in May 2014 in the Northern Hemisphere, or April in the Southern Hemisphere. Neptune rises first, but because it's so much fainter, it won't actually be visible much earlier. Sometime in June, both planets become high enough for decent telescopic viewing in the predawn sky.
Neptune reaches opposition to the Sun on August 29th, and Uranus on October 7th. These are the dates when the planets rise around sunset, set around sunrise, and reach their highest in the sky in the middle of the night. Neptune is reasonably well placed in the evening sky for Northern Hemisphere observers from August through November, and Uranus from September through January 2015. They're detectable after that, but too low for high-power telescopic observing.
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