Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Dwarf Planets feed
134340 Pluto will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it around the far side of the solar system from the Earth.
At closest approach, 134340 Pluto will appear at a separation of only 0°26' from the Sun, making it totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun's glare.
At around the same time, 134340 Pluto will also be at its most distant from the Earth – receding to a distance of 34.47 AU – since the two planets will lie on opposite sides of the solar system.
If 134340 Pluto could be observed at this time, it would appear at its smallest and faintest on account of its large distance. It would measure 0.0 arcsec in diameter.
Over following weeks and months, 134340 Pluto will re-emerge to the west of the Sun, gradually becoming visible for ever-longer periods in the pre-dawn sky. After around six months, it will reach opposition, when it will be visible for virtually the whole night. A chart of the path of 134340 Pluto across the sky in 2018 can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.
The position of 134340 Pluto at the moment it passes solar conjunction will be:
|Object||Right Ascension||Declination||Constellation||Angular Size|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.
|The sky on 09 January 2018|
22 days old
All times shown in EST.
Never attempt to point a pair of binoculars or a telescope at an object close to the Sun. Doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness.
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.
|09 Jan 2018||– 134340 Pluto at solar conjunction|
|12 Jul 2018||– 134340 Pluto at opposition|
|11 Jan 2019||– 134340 Pluto at solar conjunction|
|14 Jul 2019||– 134340 Pluto at opposition|