© NASA/Dawn 2015

1 Ceres at opposition

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

Across much of the world 1 Ceres will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Sagittarius. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight local time.

From Fairfield however, it will not be readily observable since it will lie so far south that it will never rise more than 19° above the horizon.

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1 Ceres opposite the Sun

This optimal positioning occurs when 1 Ceres 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 1 Ceres 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 1 Ceres lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that 1 Ceres, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as 1 Ceres.

In practice, however, 1 Ceres orbits much further out in the solar system than the Earth – at an average distance from the Sun of 2.77 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, 1 Ceres will lie at a distance of 1.88 AU, and its disk will measure 0.0 arcsec in diameter, shining at magnitude 7.3. Even at its closest approach to the Earth, however, it is not possible to distinguish it as more than a star-like point of light without the aid of a telescope.

1 Ceres in coming weeks

Over the weeks following its opposition, 1 Ceres 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 1 Ceres across the sky in 2024 can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.

The position of 1 Ceres at the moment it passes opposition will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
1 Ceres 19h04m10s -29°10' Sagittarius 7.3 0.0"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 05 July 2024
Sunrise
05:25
Sunset
20:27
Twilight ends
22:33
Twilight begins
03:19

29-day old moon
Waxing Crescent

0%

29 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:07 14:27 21:47
Venus 06:04 13:33 21:02
Moon 04:49 12:44 20:39
Mars 02:00 09:03 16:07
Jupiter 03:03 10:25 17:48
Saturn 23:35 05:20 11:01
All times shown in EDT.

Source

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

05 Jul 2024  –  1 Ceres at opposition
02 Oct 2025  –  1 Ceres at opposition
07 Jan 2027  –  1 Ceres at opposition
22 Jul 2027  –  1 Ceres at perihelion

Image credit

© NASA/Dawn 2015

Fairfield

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

41.14°N
73.26°W
EDT

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