Picture of the
The Moon and Jupiter point the way to Uranus, 23 September 2010
The planet Uranus lurks at the edge of naked eye visibility and is effectively invisible without optical aid from the UK. However, having the big bright planet Jupiter nearby was a good opportunity to catch it, and on this date the full Moon joined the party too.
Roll your mouse over the picture to identify the objects you see...
The Moon, Jupiter and Uranus captured on the night of 23 - 24 Sept 2010.
The nearby full Moon has been moved into the shot to give it scale, but in other respects the relative sizes and positions of the Moon and planets is genuine and corresponds to what you can expect to see through binoculars.
Uranus lies 5 times further away than Jupiter. It takes 84 years to complete one orbit of the Sun, while Jupiter takes a mere 12 years, so every 14 years or so Jupiter overtakes Uranus - 2010 was one such year. The Moon of course passes this same point every month but is seldom joined by these two planets to close together.
I confess that this picture is a bit of a cheat - it is of necessity a composite photo because the difference in brightness between the various celestial bodies would make it impossible to expose them all correctly on a single shot. Also, the Moon, 12 hours after full, was actually a few degrees away but I've brought it into shot to give a sense of scale (if only nature were really that obliging!). However, the positions of Uranus, Jupiter and of Jupiter's moons are genuine.
Click here for a fuller explanation and to see how the planets moved on consecutive nights
Picture added on 6 December 2010
- Mercury, Venus & the Moon in conjunction :
A fine opportunity to catch Mercury with two Venus and the Moon to point the way to this elusive planet in April 2010
- Mysterious Blue Clouds :
Several fine displays of Noctilucent Clouds in June & July 2009
- Comet 17P Holmes:
The comet that exploded in October 2007
- Total Lunar Eclipse:
A clear night allowed a complete view from start to finish, 3 - 4 March 2007
- Comet McNaught C/2006 P1:
The brightest comet in a generation, January 2007
- Harvest Moon Eclipse:
Only a partial eclipse but still a wonderful sight rising over the hills of
Kent, 7 Sept 2006
- Noctilucent Clouds:
Ice crystals on the very edge of space, 14 July 2006
- Dark Sun over the Sahara:
A spectacular total eclipse of the Sun seen from the Libyan desert, 29 March
- Ring of Fire: An
annular eclipse of the Sun over Spain, 3 Oct 2005
- A Southern Hemisphere Lunar Eclipse: A total eclipse seen from Argentina, 28 - 29
- Transit of Venus across the Sun: The first for 122 years, 8 June 2004
- A Quick tour of the Solar System: Four planets and three moons, 9 April 2004
- Fireworks Eclipse of the Moon: A total eclipse on fireworks night, 9 Nov 2003
- Sunstorm: Three
huge sunspots cause havoc, and wonderful aurorae (for those with clear skies),
27 Oct 2003
- Mars: closest approach
to Earth in 60,000 years, 30 Aug 2003
- Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Islands: An ancient stone circle in a barren northern
land, 8 Jun 2003
- Mercury Transit: The planet Mercury caught in a rare transit across the face
of the Sun, 7 May 2003
- Diamond Ring: a short but stunning
total solar eclipse in the Australian Outback, 4 Dec 2002
- Concrete Cows in
Milton Keynes, 16 Aug 2002
- International Space Station passes over Hay on Wye, 4 June 2002
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