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Environment & Science

WATCHING THE SKIES | July 8-14, 2024 | A look at the ice giant planet, Uranus

Watching the skies with Brad Klein

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Brad Klein reviews the week’s astronomical highlights with Bethlehem’s ‘Backyard Astronomy Guy,’ Marty McGuire.

This week a look at the ice giant, Uranus.

Uranus is theoretically visible this week in the predawn sky. The good news is that it appears close to Mars in the morning sky. The bad news is that even with a telescope, Uranus is a hard planet to see from Earth.

REF: STSCI-1998-35.
Hubble space telescope view reveals Uranus surrounded by its four major rings and by 10 of its 17 known satellites.

“Uranus is a hard planet to see because it's so far away. You’re going to have a better shot at just seeing Mars at this point, but if you had a telescope and a dark clear sky, you could in theory use Mars to find Uranus,” according to McGuire.

But even if you don’t have the equipment and technical know how to view this ‘ice giant’ directly, it’s worth learning a bit about it.

The seventh of the eight planets in our solar system, it’s the third largest after Jupiter and Saturn. It has dozens of natural satellites orbiting it, along with a ring system that is faint, but visible through NASA’s space telescopes and robotic space probes like Voyager 2.

Christine Dempsey
WLVR’s Brad Klein and ‘Backyard Astronomy Guy’, Marty McGuire