Thursday December 1st the position of the planet Neptune with respect to the Earth and the Sun places this ringed planet at what is called Eastern Quadrature. Neptune is at a 90 degree angle from the Earth – think first quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Neptune follows the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Neptune rises after the Sun and sets after the Sun.
Where is Neptune now? The 8th planet from the Sun is currently within the constellation of Aquarius the Water Bearer and has recently completed its retrograde motion (November 20th).
Along with Neptune the 2.5-day young waxing crescent Moon and several other planets are above the horizon at sunset and later. And it is at time like this I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how the ecliptic may be visualized as a line that more less connects the planets as this animated graphic shows.
This is a 1 minute clip from a video I made showing Neptune and some of its moons as viewed from the Voyager 2 spacecraft. This clip is from a longer video of a tour of the solar system and was part of a live musical performance called “Orbit”. The performances were done in May 2011 at the Gottleib Planetarium in Science City at Union Station in Kansas City MO.