Neptune at Opposition

neptune-opposition   Tuesday September 1st the outer planet Neptune reaches a position in its orbit around the Sun when it is on the oppisite side of the Earth from the Sun. This coincidentally is known as opposition, and it is an orbital position which only the planets further from the Sun than the Earth may reach.
   At opposition the object rises and sets in a fashion similar to our Moon when it is at full phase, in that the object at opposition rises at sunset and sets at sunrise.

   
   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Neptune at Western Quadrature

orbital-positions   On Sunday May 31st the position of the planet Neptune with respect to the Earth and the Sun places this ringed planet at what is called western quadrature. At that orbital position Neptune, and actually any outer planet, is at a 90 degree angle from us as this graphic shows. Think third quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Neptune leads the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Neptune rises before the Sun and also sets before the Sun.

   Neptune currently is within the boundaries of the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer. At around 9th magnitude Neptune is too dim to see with the naked-eye but easily seen with a telescope. In binoculars it may be visible just to the right from 4th magnitude Lambda Aquarii, and just below the point of a small triangle arrangement of 6th stars.

   This is a short video clip from a much longer video that I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” at the Gottleib Planetarium in Kansas City Missouri during May 2011.

   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Neptune at Solar conjunction

view-from-earth_neptune-solar-conjunction   Thursday February 26th the outer planet Neptune reaches a point in its orbit where it passes behind the Sun as we view this from Earth. Neptune, and the other outer planets, dwarf planets, or small solar system bodies, all eventually reach this position on the opposite side of the Sun known as solar conjunction.

[centup]
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Neptune at East Quadrature

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Thursday November 27th 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 as this graphic shows. 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.
28nov-bino   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. Finding Neptune will be made a little easier as Neptune and the Moon will be a few degrees apart on the evening of the 28th. Despite the close proximity Neptune ‘shines’ at 8th magnitude compared to the -12th magnitude for the first quarter Moon. However after a couple of days and the Moon has moved further east leaving Neptune in relatively darker skies Neptune will be visible in binoculars.

   This is a short 1 minute clip of a video I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” that I was part of in May 2011. This is a piece from the much longer tour of the solar system performance and video and shows Neptune and some of its moons as viewed from the Voyager 2 spacecraft.

   
   
   
[centup]
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Neptune at West Quadrature

orbital-positions   Wednesday 28 May the position of the planet Neptune with respect to the Earth and the Sun places this ringed planet at what is called western quadrature. At that orbital position Neptune, and actually any outer planet, is at a 90 degree angle from us as this graphic shows. Think third quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Neptune leads the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Neptune rises before the Sun and also sets before the Sun.
   

   This is a short video clip from a much longer video that I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” at the Gottleib Planetarium in Kansas City Missouri during May 2011.

   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Use Venus to Find Neptune

venus-neptune_bino   Saturday morning, 12 April, as the planet Venus rises it will be less than 1 degree from the outer planet Neptune as this graphic shows. The contrast in apparent magnitude (brightness) is quite noticeable as Venus shines with a -4.2 while Neptune ‘shines’ at 7.94. Neptune’s dimness means that it is beyond the range that we are able to see without optical assistance.

   For those keeping count, the difference between each number used in apparent magnitude is 2.512. A difference of 5 is equal to a difference in apparent magnitude of 100. The difference between Venus and Neptune is approximately 12 or 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512 x 2.512, meaning that Venus is about 63,130 times brighter than Neptune. So even if you cannot see Neptune unless you are looking through binoculars or a telescope eyepiece I think that just knowing that looking at Venus means you are looking toward the outermost of the planets (not counting dwarf planets!) in our solar system.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Venus and Neptune rising together.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.