From rare Harvest Moons hanging low in the sky to the Orionid meteor shower's spectacular climax, recent weeks have brought a flurry of celestial activity to the sky. While some of the events are more common than others, stargazers will be greeted by another intriguing sight on the night of Thursday, October 19, when Uranus becomes visible in the nighttime sky.
The planet, a drearily frozen orb composed of hydrogen, helium and methane that lives 1.7 billion miles away from the Earth, will reach a state of "opposition" from the Sun on Thursday night. When this occurs, Uranus will perfectly align within the Sun's path, illuminating the distant planet and making it brighter than usual. The phenomenon makes for your best chance of catching Uranus in the wild with your naked eye, although it could still be difficult to see without the aid of a backyard telescope or binoculars. Viewing should be especially good, given that a new moon won't be hogging the sky's precious star-cluttered real estate. In other words, it's Uranus' time to shine.