If you have a pair of binoculars, look for Uranus on Wednesday, January 20.
The skies will be clear in the evening, so step out an hour or two after the 5:05 p.m. sunset to see the blue planet.
It’ll be easy to spot on January 20.
Uranus will be between Mars and the crescent moon. The moon will be lower in the sky. Then, look straight above the moon for the brightest object higher up in the sky, that will be Mars.
The view through binoculars. Credit: NASA.
Mars has a red tint to it when you see it through binoculars.
The brightest object near Mars is Uranus, but it’ll be tiny.
Uranus will be a little below and a little to the left of Mars.
While you’ll see the tiny dot in the sky near Mars, use binoculars to see it: you’ll see blue tint when you look at the planet.
Uranus has a blue tint to it. Credit: Marty McGuire.
Uranus gets its blue color from methane clouds. Most of Uranus’ air is a mix of water vapor, which is the gas form of water and the building block of all clouds, ammonia, and methane.
The Hubble Telescope captured this image of Uranus. Credit: NASA.
Uranus is a chilly planet. The average temperature is negative 315F, and most of Uranus’ sky is a mix of icy ammonia and methane clouds.
The Methane clouds absorb the “warm” colors of sunlight like the reds and oranges, but it’s not able to absorb the “cold” colors in sunlight. As a result, the blues and greens in sunlight reflect all around in the methane clouds, giving the planet a blueish-green tint.
Uranus is four times the size of Earth.
This picture was taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in the 1980s. Credit: NASA
If you have a telescope, you’ll be able to see a much bigger blue dot. Here’s telescope picture of Uranus from a backyard in Northampton County.
This is what Uranus looked like through a telescope in Northampton County. Credit: Marty McGuire.
Lehigh Valley NASA Ambassador Marty McGuire took that picture with his telescope in 2017.
We asked Marty what else you can see in the night sky this month. He said you can spot Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus very easily in the night sky. They’re all still pretty bright.