Conjunctions this close are rare, but give humanity an opportunity to view our Solar System’s faintest planet.
With eight planets orbiting our Sun, any two will eventually appear close together from our perspective.
All the planets revolve in nearly the same plane — the ecliptic — with each one possessing its own unique speed.
When two planets closely approach one another, we perceive a conjunction: a common but beautiful event.
Multiple naked-eye planets in conjunction are visually spectacular, but Neptunian conjunctions can be even more special.
Neptune is always too faint to be seen with the unaided eye, so conjunctions provide the best opportunities for spotting it.
Either telescopes or simple binoculars can magnify Neptune sufficiently to appear as an unmistakable blue disk.
January 27, 2020’s conjunction with Venus provides the perfect opportunity for viewing our outermost planet: Neptune.
After sunset, brilliant Venus outshines all other stars and planets in our western skies.
At 8:12 PM CET (2:12 PM ET), Venus and Neptune will pass within 0.04° of one another.
If you can find Venus through binoculars or a telescope, Neptune will appear as a static, clearly blue disk.
Although all the surrounding stars will twinkle, Neptune won’t, your surefire planet-hunting signature.
The next convenient Neptunian conjunctions won’t occur until April 2022, more than two years away.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.