This post relates to a previous event in the night sky. For more information about the ice giants that are Uranus and Neptune, make sure to visit our categories for observing news and exoplanets. For information and Uranus and Neptune in 2014, be sure to stay tuned to skyandtelescope.com.
This article gives directions for finding Uranus and Neptune in 2012. If you've never seen these planets before, you might want to read our general instructions first.Neptune spends all of 2012 in Aquarius, and Uranus spends 2012 either in Pisces or the northwest corner of Cetus. Uranus is now just north of the celestial equator, and Neptune is considerably farther south — so neither gets very high in the sky for people at mid-northern latitudes. So it's important to make the best of the relatively short window of opportunity for viewing them.
Neptune reaches opposition to the Sun on August 24th, and Uranus on September 29th. These are the dates when the planets rise around sunset, set around sunrise, and reach their highest in the sky in the middle of the night. Neptune is reasonably well placed in the evening sky from August through November, and Uranus from September into January 2013. They're detectable after that, but too low for high-power telescopic observing. They can also be observed several months earlier if you're willing to get up before dawn.