© NASA/Cassini

Jupiter enters retrograde motion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Outer Planets feed

Objects: Jupiter
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Jupiter will enter retrograde motion, halting its usual eastward movement through the constellations, and turning to move westwards instead. This reversal of direction is a phenomenon that all the solar system's outer planets periodically undergo, a few months before they reach 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.

2020 apparition of Jupiter

14 May 2020 – Jupiter enters retrograde motion
14 Jul 2020 – Jupiter at opposition
12 Sep 2020 – Jupiter ends retrograde motion

Observing Jupiter

Jupiter enters retrograde motion as its 2020 apparition gets underway, although it has already been visible for some weeks in the pre-dawn sky.

Its celestial coordinates as it enters retrograde motion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Jupiter 19h56m00s 20°55'S Sagittarius -2.5 41.5"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

From Cambridge , it will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 00:31 (EDT) and reaching an altitude of 26° above the southern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks around 05:02.

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Over the following weeks, Jupiter will reach its highest point in the sky four minutes earlier each night, gradually becoming visible in the evening sky, as well as the pre-dawn sky, as it approaches opposition.

The sky on 14 May 2020
Sunrise
05:22
Sunset
19:58
Twilight ends
21:58
Twilight begins
03:26

21-day old moon
Waning Crescent

44%

21 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:53 13:26 20:59
Venus 06:40 14:36 22:32
Moon 02:02 07:00 12:03
Mars 02:14 07:28 12:43
Jupiter 00:31 05:13 09:54
Saturn 00:46 05:32 10:18
All times shown in EDT.

Source

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

10 Jun 2019  –  Jupiter at opposition
14 Jul 2020  –  Jupiter at opposition
19 Aug 2021  –  Jupiter at opposition
26 Sep 2022  –  Jupiter at opposition

Image credit

© NASA/Cassini

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Cambridge

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42.38°N
71.11°W
EDT

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