You may be able to see something tonight only one in a million have seen

As part of Science Week, Astronomy Ireland will be setting up some of the most powerful telescopes in Ireland to look at a very rare sight in the night skies.

The telescopes will be gathered at Astronomy Ireland's Headquarters, just off the M50, at 8pm tonight to give people a chance to look at the planet Uranus.

They reckon that as few as one in a million people have ever seen the planet through a telescope.

If the typical Irish weather scuppers their plans, they will still be giving a talk all about Uranus and its 27 moons.

          To whet your appetite for it, here are some facts about the planet, as supplied by Astronomy Ireland:

        • Uranus is a huge planet 50,724 km across - that's four times wider than Earth.
        • It does not have a solid surface, its atmosphere just gets thicker and thicker as you go down from the cloud tops.
        • Uranus was the first planet discovered by telescope in 1781. It was not known to the ancient astronomers.
        • It is roughly 20 times further from the Sun than the Earth so it is extremely cold, around - 200 degrees Celsius.
        • You need at least binoculars to see Uranus despite its huge size. This is due to its vast distance from Earth 2,850 million km (1,800 million miles) tonight.
        • The telescopes at the Uranus Watch will cut this distance down dramatically and show the planet as a small greenish disk, a sight that less than one in a million earthlings have ever seen.
        • Only one spacecraft has ever visited Uranus, Voyager 2 in 1986, and there are currently no plans to send spacecraft to Uranus.
        • There is a lot of methane in Uranus' atmosphere which gives it a slight greenish colour.
        • Uranus has 27 moons named after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. The largest is Titania with a diameter of 1578km (our Moon is 3476km wide).

Happy viewing!

Join the conversation - comment here

House Rules for comments - FAQ - Important message for commenters


Most Read in Ireland