Unistellar Citizen Astronomers are invited to participate in this week’s quest to observe Uranus!
We’re approaching a special anniversary! Thirty-five years ago, on January 24, 1986, the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Uranus! It was the first and only spacecraft to visit this striking, pale-blue planet, and this week’s challenge commemorates this special anniversary.
Your challenge is to observe Uranus and make a movie of its moons orbiting around the planet! Scroll down the page to Observation Directions and Tips for more details.
- The third largest and the fourth most massive planet in our solar system
- Known as an ice giant, most of its mass comes from “ices” which are chemicals with freezing points above ~100 Kelvin. (Methane, water, and ammonia are examples.) During Uranus’ formation, these chemicals were solid.
- Uranus appears blue due to the methane in its atmosphere.
- Located about 2 billion miles (3 billion kilometers) away
- It has 27 known moons; most are named for characters in the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope
- Uranus has a ring system consisting of 13 distinct rings, made of a very dark material
- It is the only planet in our solar system that spins almost completely on its side. Uranus’ axis is tilted almost 98 degrees! Along with Venus, it is also one of the two planets in our solar system that spin backwards.
- Uranus was discovered by astronomer and composer, William Herschel on March 13, 1781. It was the first planet discovered with a telescope.
- Herschel also discovered Uranus’ largest moons, Titania and Oberon, on January 11, 1787.
Observing Directions and Tips:
Observe Uranus for 15 nights, from January 22 to February 6. Make a movie of Uranus’ moons rotating around the planet!
- Search for “Uranus” and select “Go to” from the Explore tab of the Unistellar app.
- After your eVscope has slewed to Uranus, center the planet in the middle of your eVscope’s field of view (FOV).
- It’s bright, so it will appear like a star in the eVscope’s live view.
- You will want to use Enhanced Vision to observe Uranus and be able to see its moons.
- Depending on the sky quality at your location, you may want to leave the Enhanced Vision mode on for at least 2 minutes, possibly up to about 10 minutes.
- Save the image on your smartphone or tablet.
- Repeat this observation each night from January 22 to February 6, so you will have 15 different observations of Uranus.
- Combine all your observations and create a movie of the moons rotating around Uranus!
- You can identify the moons by comparing your observations with the NASA JPL Solar System Simulator. Check out the movie below on how to use it:
- Join our Slack Channel to coordinate with other eVscope users around the world, so you can have full coverage of the moons rotating around Uranus! Click here to join the Slack Channel #uranus
- Take a glimpse of Mars as well, since it will be close to Uranus in the sky!
eVscope image captured by Unistellar CSO and SETI Institute Senior Planetary Astronomer Franck Marchis.
We encourage you to share your observations of Uranus and join the conversation through our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages using the hashtag #UnistellarChallenge!
If you’d like to send us your observations by email, send them to email@example.com.
Clear skies! 🔭