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Uranus and Neptune in 2013


Finder chart for Uranus and Neptune during 2013.

Detailed charts for paths of Uranus and Neptune during 2013.

Positions of Uranus and Neptune during 2013.

Uranus and Neptune in 2013

Both planets start 2013 as evening objects. On January 1, at the latitude of New Zealand, Neptune will set close to two and a half hours after the Sun, with Uranus setting about 75 minutes later . In NZ this translates to just before midnight NZDT for Neptune and near 1 am for Uranus. The time at which the planets set advances by about 2 hours each month. As a result, before the end of January, Neptune will be lost in the evening twilight, followed by Uranus about mid February.

Neptune is at conjunction with the Sun on February 21. At its closest, as "seen" from the Earth, the planet will by 21' from the southern edge of the Sun, about two-thirds of the apparent diameter of the Sun. In reality Neptune will be 30 astronomical units (AU) beyond the Sun, that is 30 times further from the Sun than the Earth is.

Uranus, at its conjunction on March 29, will appear to be 24' from the Sun's southern limb. Its real distance from the Sun will be slightly over 20 AU. Venus is at superior conjunction with the Sun 7 hours before Uranus. Venus will be 40' further from the Sun than Uranus, a planetary conjunction certainly no-one will see.

The planets are too close to the Sun to observe for about a month either side of their conjunction date. After conjunction they are morning objects, rising before the Sun. A month after conjunction they will rise about 2 hours before the Sun, so will not be very high before the brightening sky makes them unobservable. They will rise about 4 minutes earlier each day, 2 hours a month, and so become visible for longer during the night until opposition.

Neptune is at opposition on August 27 when it will be at its closest to the Earth for the year, 29 AU or 4334 million kilometres away. It will also be at its brightest, magnitude 7.8 so quite easy to see using binoculars provided you know where to look. Uranus comes to opposition on October 4, its distance being 19 AU, 2848 million kilometres. At magnitude 5.7 it will be a very easy binocular object. At this magnitude it will be visible to the unaided eye from a dark site on a moonless night. Good eyesight is needed, and one needs to know where to look.

At opposition the planets will rise in the evening about the time of sunset and set close to the time of sunrise. They transit, that is are due north and highest in the sky, at the time of local midnight. The planets become visible in the latter part of the evening some weeks before opposition. Like the time of rise and set, the time of transit advances by about 2 hours per month, so the planets are best placed for evening viewing in the month or two following opposition.

Uranus is in Pisces for most of 2013. During March it will cross the corner of Cetus it ventured into but then retreated from, during 2012. This time it goes all the way across the corner to be back into Pisces by the beginning of April. Uranus will be too close to the Sun to see while it is in Cetus. It will continue to move to the east through Pisces until it is stationary on July 18. Then it starts moving back to the west through the stars, the reversal being due to the faster moving Earth beginning to catch up with Uranus in their orbits round the Sun. The Earth finally catches up with Uranus on October 4 when it is at opposition.

The retrograde, westerly motion of Uranus continues until December 18 when it is again stationary as the Earth turns away from the outer planet. Two or three days before being stationary, Uranus manages to just cross the constellation border back into the corner of Cetus. It moves out again back into Pisces a couple of days later.

Neptune remains in Aquarius throughout 2013. Like Uranus it moves forwards and backwards during the year. It reaches its first stationary point on June 8 when it starts moving in a retrograde sense. It maintains its apparent westerly motion through opposition and on until November 14. Neptune is then again stationary prior to starting its normal easterly motion.

Conjunctions with the moon occur at approximately 28 day intervals throughout the year. Neptune will be 5.6° from the moon at its January conjunction. Uranus will be rather closer at 4.5°. At lunar conjunctions by the end of 2013, Neptune will be about 5.2° from the moon, while Uranus will be 3.1° from it.

Finder chart for Uranus and Neptune during 2013.

The view is for the southern hemisphere with south at the top and east to the right.

The circle shows a field with a five degree diameter. Stars to magnitude 6.5 are shown.
The path of Venus as it moves past the two planets early in 2013 is also shown. Daily positions are marked, with every fourth day labelled.

Finder chart.


Path of Uranus in Pisces and Cetus during 2013.

The view is for the southern hemisphere with south at the top and east to the right.
The circle shows a field 5° in diameter, a field typical of 8x50 and 10x50 binoculars.
Stars to magnitude 9.5 shown, with stars to magnitude 8 labelled without a decimal point.

Path of Uranus in 2013.


Path of Neptune in Aquarius during 2013.

The view is for the southern hemisphere with south at the top and east to the right.
The circle shows a field 5° in diameter, a field typical of 8x50 and 10x50 binoculars.
Stars to magnitude 9.5 shown, with stars to magnitude 8 labelled without a decimal point.

Path of Neptune in 2013.


Positions of Uranus and Neptune during 2013

  Uranus Neptune
Date
2013
R.A.
hr min
Dec
  °   '
Mag R.A.
hr min
Dec
  °   '
Mag
2012 Dec 30 00 17.8 +01 09 5.8 22 12.2 -11 45 7.9
2013 Jan 14 00 18.9 +01 17 5.9 22 14.1 -11 35 8.0
2013 Jan 29 00 20.7 +01 29 5.9 22 16.0 -11 25 8.0
2013 Feb 13 00 22.9 +01 44 5.9 22 18.1 -11 13 8.0
2013 Feb 28 00 25.7 +02 02 5.9 22 20.3 -11 01 8.0
2013 Mar 15 00 28.6 +02 22 5.9 22 22.4 -10 49 8.0
2013 Mar 30 00 31.8 +02 42 5.9 22 24.4 -10 38 8.0
2013 Apr 14 00 34.9 +03 02 5.9 22 26.1 -10 28 7.9
2013 Apr 29 00 37.9 +03 21 5.9 22 27.4 -10 21 7.9
2013 May 14 00 40.6 +03 38 5.9 22 28.4 -10 16 7.9
2013 May 29 00 42.9 +03 52 5.9 22 28.9 -10 13 7.9
2013 Jun 13 00 44.7 +04 03 5.9 22 29.0 -10 14 7.9
2013 Jun 28 00 45.9 +04 10 5.8 22 28.6 -10 16 7.9
2013 Jul 13 00 46.4 +04 13 5.8 22 27.8 -10 21 7.8
2013 Jul 28 00 46.3 +04 13 5.8 22 26.6 -10 28 7.8
2013 Aug 12 00 45.5 +04 07 5.8 22 25.2 -10 37 7.8
2013 Aug 27 00 44.2 +03 58 5.7 22 23.7 -10 46 7.8
2013 Sep 11 00 42.4 +03 46 5.7 22 22.2 -10 55 7.8
2013 Sep 26 00 40.2 +03 32 5.7 22 20.8 -11 03 7.8
2013 Oct 11 00 38.0 +03 18 5.7 22 19.6 -11 09 7.8
2013 Oct 26 00 35.9 +03 05 5.7 22 18.8 -11 14 7.9
2013 Nov 10 00 34.1 +02 54 5.7 22 18.4 -11 16 7.9
2013 Nov 25 00 32.7 +02 46 5.8 22 18.6 -11 15 7.9
2013 Dec 10 00 32.0 +02 42 5.8 22 19.2 -11 11 7.9
2013 Dec 25 00 32.0 +02 42 5.8 22 20.2 -11 05 7.9
2014 Jan 9 00 32.7 +02 47 5.8 22 21.7 -10 56 7.9

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Site maintained by Peter Jaquiery
Last updated 22 April 2014