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Close approach of Mars and Neptune

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

Mars and Neptune will make a close approach, passing within 0°01' of each other.

From Washington, the pair will become visible around 18:07 (MST) as the dusk sky fades, 39° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting at 22:12.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

Mars will be at mag 0.9, and Neptune at mag 7.9, both in the constellation Aquarius.

The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible through a pair of binoculars.

At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

A graph of the angular separation between Mars and Neptune around the time of closest approach is available here.

The positions of the two objects at the moment of closest approach will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Mars 22h45m30s -08°48' Aquarius 0.9 5"7
Neptune 22h45m30s -08°47' Aquarius 7.9 2"2

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 58° from the Sun, which is in Sagittarius at this time of year.

The sky on 31 December 2016
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

2-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


2 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:07 12:05 17:03
Venus 10:30 15:50 21:10
Moon 09:25 14:39 19:53
Mars 10:59 16:35 22:11
Jupiter 01:29 07:11 12:53
Saturn 06:20 11:13 16:05
All times shown in MST.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 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

02 Sep 2016  –  Neptune at opposition
04 Sep 2017  –  Neptune at opposition
07 Sep 2018  –  Neptune at opposition
10 Sep 2019  –  Neptune at opposition

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