Opposition

by Dominic Ford, Editor
Opposition

Mars at opposition in 2001, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Image courtesy of NASA.

An astronomical body is said to be at opposition when it makes its closest approach to the point directly opposite to the Sun in the night sky.

This means that the object will appear highest in the sky at around midnight, local time, and will be above the horizon for much of the night.

For objects which orbit further out in the Solar System than the Earth – almost all bodies other than Mercury and Venus – this configuration happens when the Solar System is aligned such that the object lies in a straight line with the Earth and the Sun, the Earth being in the middle.

Consequently, this is also the time when the object makes its closest approach to the Earth, making it appear at its largest and brightest in the night sky.

List of oppositions

The table below lists the dates when objects are at opposition in 2020, computed from NASA's DE405 planetary ephemeris. To show dates in other years, use the drop-down control.

List objects at opposition in year

Date Object Declination
Date Object Declination
15 Jan 2020 09:34 UTC511 Davida at opposition24°12'NMore information »
21 Jan 2020 21:34 UTC5 Astraea at opposition16°24'NMore information »
15 Mar 2020 09:34 UTC27 Euterpe at opposition4°34'NMore information »
26 Mar 2020 08:35 UTC136472 Makemake at opposition23°45'NMore information »
03 Apr 2020 02:22 UTC3 Juno at opposition1°43'NMore information »
16 Apr 2020 16:01 UTC136108 Haumea at opposition16°23'NMore information »
28 Jun 2020 11:58 UTC7 Iris at opposition20°37'SMore information »
03 Jul 2020 07:10 UTC532 Herculina at opposition19°57'SMore information »
14 Jul 2020 07:46 UTCJupiter at opposition21°57'SMore information »
15 Jul 2020 19:10 UTC2 Pallas at opposition21°02'NMore information »
16 Jul 2020 02:17 UTC134340 Pluto at opposition22°20'SMore information »
20 Jul 2020 22:14 UTCSaturn at opposition20°42'SMore information »
28 Aug 2020 18:53 UTC1 Ceres at opposition23°38'SMore information »
29 Aug 2020 04:46 UTC20 Massalia at opposition8°29'SMore information »
11 Sep 2020 14:22 UTC19 Fortuna at opposition2°32'SMore information »
11 Sep 2020 20:10 UTCNeptune at opposition5°16'SMore information »
30 Sep 2020 16:46 UTC68 Leto at opposition4°54'SMore information »
13 Oct 2020 23:18 UTCMars at opposition5°20'NMore information »
17 Oct 2020 04:47 UTC136199 Eris at opposition1°35'SMore information »
23 Oct 2020 16:46 UTC11 Parthenope at opposition4°08'NMore information »
27 Oct 2020 19:10 UTC471 Papagena at opposition7°03'SMore information »
31 Oct 2020 15:38 UTCUranus at opposition13°51'NMore information »
01 Nov 2020 14:22 UTC8 Flora at opposition3°10'NMore information »
07 Dec 2020 23:58 UTC16 Psyche at opposition18°00'NMore information »

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