HUDSON VALLEY, NY — The gas-packed planet Uranus will be at its closest point to Earth Thursday night as it reaches opposition with the sun — meaning it will be bathed in light — and it should be visible to the naked eye. The ice giant’s blue-green color is unmistakable, and skywatchers should be able to see the planet throughout the month of October.
Uranus — properly pronounced “YOOR-a-nus” — is the seventh planet from the sun and the third largest in the solar system. It floats in front of the constellation Pisces the Fishes, and it hasn’t been this high in the sky during opposition since February 1963.
There’s a new moon, so Uranus won’t face competition in the same area of the sky. It reaches its peak at 1 a.m. local time.
While the Hudson Valley’s track record for viewing events such as this isn’t stellar, the weather Thursday night seems to be cooperating. Except for the mid-Hudson Valley, which calls for mostly clear skies, the forecast for the lower Hudson Valley calls for clear skies. The overnight lows will be in the mid- to upper-40s, with southern Westchester around 50 degrees.
And though you should be able to see Uranus just using your eyes, you still may want to use binoculars or a telescope for the best views, according to Astronomy magazine.