© Mike Brown et al., CalTech and Keck Observatory

136108 Haumea at opposition

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 at06:27 EDT(344 days ago)
10:27 UTC

Dominic Ford, Editor
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136108 Haumea will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Bootes. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.

From Ashburn (click to change), it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 21:02, when it rises 24° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 01:52, 68° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 05:28, 39° above your western horizon.

136108 Haumea opposite the Sun

This optimal positioning occurs when 136108 Haumea 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 136108 Haumea 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 136108 Haumea lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that 136108 Haumea, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as 136108 Haumea.

In practice, however, 136108 Haumea orbits much further out in the solar system than the Earth – at an average distance from the Sun of 43.35 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, 136108 Haumea will lie at a distance of 49.70 AU, and reach a peak brightness of magnitude 17.3. Even at its closest approach to the Earth, however, 136108 Haumea is so distant from the Earth that it is not possible to distinguish it as more than a star-like point of light.

136108 Haumea in coming weeks

Over the weeks following its opposition, 136108 Haumea 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.

A chart of the path of 136108 Haumea across the sky in 2017 can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.

The position of 136108 Haumea at the moment it passes opposition will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
136108 Haumea 14h09m20s +17°21' Bootes 17.3 0.0"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 13 April 2017
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

16-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


16 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:48 13:44 20:39
Venus 05:09 11:22 17:35
Moon 22:13 02:42 08:06
Mars 07:59 15:09 22:18
Jupiter 18:59 00:50 06:35
Saturn 00:45 05:32 10:18
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.

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13 Apr 2017, 06:27 EDT  –  136108 Haumea at opposition
14 Apr 2018, 13:58 EDT  –  136108 Haumea at opposition
15 Apr 2019, 21:23 EDT  –  136108 Haumea at opposition
16 Apr 2020, 05:11 EDT  –  136108 Haumea at opposition

Image credit

© Mike Brown et al., CalTech and Keck Observatory




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