In the early hours of Friday (July 22), the waning crescent moon will be conveniently placed to guide you to the tiny, magnitude 5.8 dot that is Uranus.
(On the magnitude scale used by astronomers, lower numbers signify brighter objects. For example, at its brightest, the planet Venus shines with a magnitude of about -4.6 (opens in new tab).)
You’ll be able to see the pair for about two hours before the sky begins to brighten according to astronomer Chris Vaughan of Astrogeo.ca, who prepares Space.com’s monthly Night Sky calendar in cooperation with Simulation Curriculum.
During the encounter, Uranus and the moon will be close enough to share the same view in a pair of binoculars and will also be visible with backyard telescopes.
Related: The brightest planets in July’s night sky: How to see them (and when)
“When the moon rises after 1 a.m. local time in the Eastern Time Zone, Uranus will be located a lunar diameter above (or celestial northwest of) the moon,” Writes Vaughan. “The moon’s eastward orbital motion (green line) will carry it steadily farther to Uranus’ lower-left each hour, so observers looking later, and in more westerly time zones, will find Uranus up to 3 degrees from the moon.”
The exact time of the event varies depending on your specific location, so you’ll want to check out a skywatching app like SkySafari or software like Starry Night to check for times. Our picks for the best stargazing apps may help you with your planning.
According to Vaughan, skywatchers situated from northeastern Brazil to the Cape Verde Islands and northwestern Africa will be able to see the moon occult Uranus at approximately 00:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT).
If you’re looking for a telescope or binoculars to observe these skywatching targets, our guides for the best binoculars deals and the best telescope deals now can help. Our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography can also help you prepare to capture the next skywatching sight on your own.
The moon is approaching the end of its monthly planetary tour. After swinging by Uranus on Friday (July 22) it will call in on Venus on July 26 and then wrap things up with Mercury on July 29.
If you’d like to take a more in-depth look at our rocky companion our ultimate guide to observing the moon will help you plan your next skywatching venture whether it be exploring the lunar seas, mountainous terrain, or the many craters that blanket the landscape. You can also see where astronauts, rovers and landers have ventured with our Apollo landing sites observing guide.
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