Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Dwarf Planets feed
136472 Makemake will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Coma Berenices. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.
From Ashburn, it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 20:35, when it rises 21° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 02:04, 76° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 06:03, 39° above your western horizon.
136472 Makemake opposite the Sun
This optimal positioning occurs when 136472 Makemake is almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky. Since the Sun reaches its greatest distance below the horizon at midnight, the point opposite to it is highest in the sky at the same time.
At around the same time that 136472 Makemake passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth – termed its perigee – making it appear at its brightest and largest.
This happens because when 136472 Makemake lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that 136472 Makemake, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as 136472 Makemake.
In practice, however, 136472 Makemake orbits much further out in the solar system than the Earth – at an average distance from the Sun of 45.65 times that of the Earth, and so its angular size does not vary much as it cycles between opposition and solar conjunction.
On this occasion, 136472 Makemake will lie at a distance of 51.61 AU, and reach a peak brightness of magnitude 17.1. Even at its closest approach to the Earth, however, 136472 Makemake is so distant from the Earth that it is not possible to distinguish it as more than a star-like point of light.
136472 Makemake in coming weeks
Over the weeks following its opposition, 136472 Makemake will reach its highest point in the sky four minutes earlier each night, gradually receding from the pre-dawn morning sky while remaining visible in the evening sky for a few months.
The position of 136472 Makemake at the moment it passes opposition will be:
|Object||Right Ascension||Declination||Constellation||Magnitude||Angular Size|
|136472 Makemake||12h58m40s||+25°16'||Coma Berenices||17.1||0.0"|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.
|The sky on 23 March 2017|
25 days old
All times shown in EDT.
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.
|23 Mar 2017, 04:03 EDT||– 136472 Makemake at opposition|
|24 Mar 2018, 10:04 EDT||– 136472 Makemake at opposition|
|25 Mar 2019, 16:00 EDT||– 136472 Makemake at opposition|
|25 Mar 2020, 21:50 EDT||– 136472 Makemake at opposition|
© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope