Neptune at opposition

A quick reminder

Sky scene 2016 September 1

since I’m going to be away south for six nights.

Neptune is now at its dim highest in our skies, and will be at opposition on Friday, September 2.  The exact time (which isn’t vitally important) of the event is 17h Universal Time; that is 1 PM by clocks in eastern North America, 12 noon in the Central time zone, 10 AM on the Pacific coast.  So the picture is for the evening before.

Neptune is two magnitudes below naked-eye visibility (astronomical “magnitudes” being factors of about 2.5 in amount of light), so it has to be found with a telescope, using this chart adapted from the “NEPTUNE” section of Astronomical Calendar 2016..

Neptune opposition 2016 chart

For everyone, there’s still the grand evening sight, over to the west, of Saturn and Mars moving about in the vicinity of red Antares and the other stars that abound in the direction of the center of our Galaxy.

On Sep. 1 the Moon is New and in the next two days its extremely slim crescent passes north of Mercury, close enough to Jupiter to occult it (as seen from much of the northern hemisphere but mainly by daylight), and then north of Venus.  But because of the angle of the ecliptic to the horizon at this season these configurations are likely to be seeable only by people in the southern hemisphere.


2 thoughts on “Neptune at opposition”

  1. Perhaps it’s been too long since you posted this to leave a comment that anyone will read, but after weeks of unpacking, bright waxing Moon, rain, clouds, and sloth, I finally got out my big binoculars to hunt for Neptune from my back deck. This evening, the 23rd of September, I tracked it down. No digital image, no sketch, but instead a PowerPoint drawing:
    I should be able to get Uranus later on tonight or tomorrow night. Astronomical calendar charts are invaluable!

    1. Brilliant. “Weeks of unpacking, bright waxing Moon, rain, clouds, and sloth” followed by minutes of skill with binoculars, PowerPoint, and Flickr, which are beyond me.

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