Look for Uranus next to Mars

This January, finding the planet Uranus with binoculars is made much easier because there’s a brilliant pointer right beside it – Mars. It’s like having a big arrow in the sky showing you where to look.

Uranus is much fainter than the well-known planets, so wasn’t discovered until 1781 when it was spotted using a telescope from the streets of Bath by William Herschel. And that still makes it a tricky planet to find, as you really need at least binoculars to make it stand out. It looks like just one of thousands of faint stars in the sky. But right now, in January 2021, it’s close to Mars high up in the sky, so all you need to find it is binoculars.

Mars is easy to spot, high up in the southern sky in early evening, and the brightest object in that part of the sky apart from the Moon, which will also be nearby on the 20th, the day when the two planets are closest in the sky. So take a look at Mars, and look for two quite faint stars nearby, as shown in the diagram below.

The movement of Mars during January 2021. The circle shows the approximate field of binoculars. Find Mars and look for the two fairly faint stars nearby. The lower of the two is Uranus. Click to enlarge. Map made using Chris Marriott’s SkyMap

In the diagram, the ticks mark the position of Mars at midnight (0h) on the date shown, so bear in mind that if you are observing before midnight, Mars will be almost in the position shown for the next day.

Below, you can view a video of the view through binoculars, and also showing you how to find other interesting objects to view in the January sky.