Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

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jeff.stevens
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Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by jeff.stevens »

I've been taking a peek at the planet Uranus over the last couple of nights, using an Olympus 8x40 [DPS I] binocular. This evening I decided to have a go at sketching the path of my star hopping process, starting at 86 Ceti, and working my way north. The Moon has moved out of the way a little more since last night's observation. However, it provided an interesting distraction before I began looking for Uranus, as the view of the waning Moon this evening was particularly crisp and clear when I started observing around 9:45pm. Isn't the Pleiades riding high in the evening sky now? I always think of this as a mark of Winter being on it's way.

You'll need to wipe the dust from your computer screen/phone screen to see the attached sketch. I've used a circle to give a rough estimate of the binocular field of view on this chart. They perhaps don't show as well on my rough sketch, but two groupings of stars really stood out for me. The first is a "question mark" of stars with the "dot" of the "question mark" formed by 78 Ceti. Then, moving slightly north and west of that configuration, there's a beautiful crescent of stars starting with 73 Ceti curving around to 24 Arietis. Working further north, and relatively on its own, is Uranus (marked by the crosshair), forming a wider tilted equilateral triangle with 29 and 31 Arietis. It's relatively easy to spot in my 8x40.

I've never had the luxury of being under skies that are dark enough to enable Uranus to be picked out with the unaided eye, although I've heard it's possible. Each time I observe it, I never cease to be amazed by the fact that I can actually detect it with the binocular at the staggering distance of some 18.8 astronomical units away from the earth.

Best wishes, Jeff.
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michael feist
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by michael feist »

Nice observation Jeff. I was looking at URANUS at 2100 GMT on the 3rd November using 8x 42 Hawke monocular. As I saw it... 29 Arietis, Uranus, 31 and Xi [24] Arietis made a neat cross-shape [or a 'cygnus' without a 'heart-star']. regards mike [the watcher].
RMSteele
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by RMSteele »

Keep sketching Jeff, this is fascinating. Bob
jeff.stevens
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by jeff.stevens »

Thanks Mike and Bob. I do like using the 8x40, as well as the unaided eye views. I was trying to work out if I could see any colour in Uranus. There seemed a definite difference to any surrounding stars, and whilst I wouldn’t like to pin my colours to the mast :wink: my brain seemed to interpret a dull blue appearance.

My vision in my right eye is getting impaired now by floaters, and it’s quite frustrating - I’m not entirely sure what impact this is having on my observing abilities. Whilst the effect is more noticeable in daytime, and reading work, I suspect it is affecting my observing abilities.

Best wishes, Jeff.
nigeljoslin
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by nigeljoslin »

You are right Jeff, Uranus is distinctly different to any surrounding stars. It took me quite a few attempts to find it the first time, but now it is easily distinguishable every time. And yes, it is surprisingly bright for its distance. All that reflective ice, I suppose!
Skywatcher 350P f4.65, Skywatcher StarTravel 102 f5, Adler Optik 9x63 binoculars
jeff.stevens
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by jeff.stevens »

Nigel, I’m not sure what Herschel was messing around at, taking so long to spot it in and identify it in the first place. Five minutes with a decent binocular, some clear skies and some planetarium software, and there you have it! :lol:

Didn’t he initially describe it as a nebulous star or comet? I recall visiting his house in New King Street, Bath, a few years back - fabulous that it has been preserved, and a great sense of history standing in the garden.

My ‘scope is out of action at the moment, as I had need to have a massive tidy up recently, and my eyepieces are all very inaccessible. I might make the effort to rescue them and have a telescopic view of Uranus and perhaps Mars too.

Best wishes, Jeff.
RMSteele
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by RMSteele »

Yeah, get the scope and eyepieces out Jeff. Don't bother about the floaters - we all get 'em as we get older - I have in the right eye too. Use the left eye. Have scope, use scope. Bob
jeff.stevens
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by jeff.stevens »

I like your positivity, Bob. I shall rescue my eyepieces and get the ‘scope out.

Best wishes, Jeff.
nigeljoslin
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by nigeljoslin »

I agree with you, Jeff. Perhaps in Herschel's day the Planetarium software was less accurate!

It was certainly superb using my 14 inch last night. Very easy to spot, so different from stars for being what I call `buttery'. It's interesting that Herschel described it as nebulous; I wonder how his optics compare to modern scopes. Having observed this planet a good number of times now, I am aware that a disc is easily visible even at 66x, whereas when I started out I reported that I did not discern a disc until 110x. Just shows the role played by experience!

I hope you soon retrieve your eyepieces, Jeff!
Skywatcher 350P f4.65, Skywatcher StarTravel 102 f5, Adler Optik 9x63 binoculars
RMSteele
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by RMSteele »

I located Uranus this evening with binoculars. Actually I used Aries to find it by climbing down from alpha, beta, gamma, to iota and thence via a semi-circlet of 7th mag stars to 19 Ari, then east about 3 degrees to Uranus. I made a brightness estimate with 15x63 binocs using 31 Ari (listed in one source as mag 5.6). I had expected Uranus to be a slightly fainter than 31 Ari because the planet's brightness is given as mag 5.7 at the moment but, surprisingly, there was no sensible difference between it and the star. Further comparing Uranus with 29 Ari (mag 6.0), it looked 3 or 4 steps brighter, difficult to decide. However, I decided to check further on coming indoors and found that a more commonly accepted figure for the brightness of 31 Ari appears to be mag 5.68. So, the conclusion of this shaggy dog story is that Uranus appears to be nearer mag 5.7 than 5.6 - to my old eyes at least.
Bob
jeff.stevens
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by jeff.stevens »

Aries would be the quicker route, Bob. Mine was very convoluted - a bit like my general route finding here on Earth; I tend to always manage to find the longer, more scenic route :lol: .

I’m impressed with your magnitude estimating skills. It’s something I have never managed to crack with any degree of accuracy. More practice required on my part.

Best wishes, Jeff.
michael feist
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by michael feist »

To locate URANUS , I still currently work across from The Pleiades, via a couple of asterisms, to the planet which at present forms an upright cross with 29, 31 and 24 [Xi] . This 'cross' neatly fits within the fov of the 8x42 monocular. It is currently visible from my location from about 1835 GMT from the bedroom window and by midnight is quite high in the South. As when last observed around midnight, 10th-11th November, 2355-0005 GMT last night], from the back-garden using 8x42 Hawke monocular. [obs.#1512]. regards mike [the watcher.]

[re. estimating magnitudes I am pretty hopeless. Trying to estimate the magnitude of variable stars, specially if of different colour, is beyond me. Trying to tell if R Leonis is currently brighter or fainter, or even equal to 18 Leonis, is difficult, and attempting to estimate the brightness of a comet...well I might as well try to measure fog with ruler!] regards mike.
RMSteele
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Re: Uranus 3rd Nov 2020

Post by RMSteele »

Speaking of red stars and magnitudes Mike, I notice that 19 Ari is listed as an M-type semi regular red giant star of a similar brightness to Uranus. I wonder if we would notice a colour contrast between 19 ari and Uranus? I compared them in 10x50 and 15x63 binocs last night but, apart from Uranus looking a bit bluish I couldn’t see any tint to 19 ari. I’m not sure if I was kidding myself about Uranus looking blue either. A comparison at higher magnification, say in a spotting scope, might help to darken the sky a bit and increase contrast. I aim to have a look using my 80mm f5 Startravel sometime in the next few days. I recently bought a couple of extension tubes to extend the focuser range so that I can now use it without a diagonal and without the useless 6x30 finder. It makes finding things easier now I can use it as a straight-through scope. I have it on top of my 90 mm refractor as a 10x80 finder at the moment. Anyway, is there any colour contrast between 19 ari and Uranus?
Kind thoughts, Bob
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