Uranus and Mars conjunction on July 30 and 31
Mars and Uranus in one binocular field of view
On July 30 and 31, 2022, before the sun rises and while the sky is still fairly dark, grab a pair of binoculars and head out under the stars. If you’ve never spotted Uranus before, now’s your chance.
The elusive 7th planet from the sun is dim, shining at magnitude 5.8. Sure, some people can spot objects of magnitude 6 with their eye alone. But unless you have a lot of experience, very dark skies and great eyesight, you’ll want a pair of binoculars to see Uranus.
Uranus is a challenge to observe because it’s just one point of light floating against background stars of similar brightness. But on July 30 and 31, you have a not-so-secret weapon on your side: Mars. Mars shines bright at magnitude 0.2 and has a reddish glow. Look high above the southeastern horizon to spot it, then use binoculars to focus on Uranus hiding in the dark depths nearby.
Uranus will be to the upper left of Mars for Northern Hemisphere observers. It’s the brightest point of light close to Mars. (If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, Uranus will be the brightest point of light in binoculars that’s just below Mars.)
Uranus and Mars are about 2 degrees apart on the morning of July 30. They’re a bit closer – around 1 1/2 degrees apart – on July 31. In reality, the planets are quite far apart. They average about 17.69 astronomical units (AU) from each other. That’s about 1.6 billion miles or 2.6 billion kilometers.
Bottom line: Use Mars to spot the elusive seventh planet, Uranus. A pair of binoculars will help you see the faint outer planet.