Uranus & moons near opposition

Later this month (night of Sept 9th), Uranus reaches the point in her orbit where she is at opposition to the sun (as seen from Earth), that is Earth & Uranus are closest together. The planet is currently positioned to also show 99.99% of her disc; and she’ll reach equinox early this winter. It is therefore a good time for viewing. I took both of the following images on the night 3rd/4th September ’07.

Uranus - 1 shot image  Exposure 1second @ ISO400 – Canon 20D

Uranus is a gas giant in our outer solar system. Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun & 3rd largest in our solar system. It is extremely cold (-215C) & is probably more similar in core chemistry to Neptune who lies beyond her, than Jupiter or Saturn who are closer to the us. Uranus’ atmosphere contains clouds of frozen water, ammonia & methane, these give the planet her blue/green appearance.

uranus-040907-e2-2  Click image for a larger view …

The image above has a total exposure time of 3mins 45secs, it was awkward to control the over-exposure of the planet whilst picking up her moons. I have spent considerable time viewing star charts & working out orientation (as marked on the image) but I still have no idea what the object/mark in the western corner is (As normal, suggestions & constructive comments are welcome). Sky & Telescope have various useful write ups on viewing Uranus & an excellent JavaScript for identifying the moons at any given time.


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