© NASA/Cassini

Jupiter ends retrograde motion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Outer Planets feed

Objects: Jupiter
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Jupiter will reach the end of its retrograde motion, ending its westward movement through the constellations and returning to more usual eastward motion instead. This reversal of direction is a phenomenon that all the solar system's outer planets periodically undergo, a few months after they pass opposition.

The retrograde motion is caused by the Earth's own motion around the Sun. As the Earth circles the Sun, our perspective changes, and this causes the apparent positions of objects to move from side-to-side in the sky with a one-year period. This nodding motion is super-imposed on the planet's long-term eastward motion through the constellations.

The diagram below illustrates this. The grey dashed arrow shows the Earth's sight-line to the planet, and the diagram on the right shows the planet's apparently movement across the sky as seen from the Earth:

The retrograde motion of a planet in the outer solar system. Not drawn to scale.

2013–2014 apparition of Jupiter

06 Nov 2013 – Jupiter enters retrograde motion
04 Jan 2014 – Jupiter at perigee
05 Jan 2014 – Jupiter at opposition
06 Mar 2014 – Jupiter ends retrograde motion

Observing Jupiter

Jupiter leaves retrograde motion as its 2013–2014 apparition comes to an end, although it will remain visible for some weeks in the dusk sky.

Its celestial coordinates as it leaves retrograde motion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Jupiter 06h44m30s 23°17'N Gemini -2.4 40.8"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

From Seattle , it will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible around 18:20 (PDT), 59° above your south-eastern horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 19:54, 65° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 02:51, when it sinks below 7° above your north-western horizon.

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Over the following weeks, Jupiter will reach its highest point in the sky four minutes earlier each night, gradually disappearing into evening twilight.

The sky on 04 Jun 2023

The sky on 04 June 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

16-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


16 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:20 11:31 18:42
Venus 08:29 16:23 00:17
Moon 21:12 01:15 05:11
Mars 09:26 17:01 00:37
Jupiter 03:29 10:25 17:22
Saturn 01:37 06:54 12:11
All times shown in PDT.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

05 Jan 2014  –  Jupiter at opposition
06 Feb 2015  –  Jupiter at opposition
08 Mar 2016  –  Jupiter at opposition
07 Apr 2017  –  Jupiter at opposition

Image credit

© NASA/Cassini






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