The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.

Lunar occultation of Neptune

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Lunar Occultations feed

Objects: Neptune
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The sky at

The Moon will pass in front of Neptune, creating a lunar occultation visible from parts of the Americas.

Lunar occultations are only ever visible from a small fraction of the Earth's surface. Since the Moon is much closer to the Earth than other celestial objects, its exact position in the sky differs depending on your exact location on Earth due to its large parallax. The position of the Moon as seen from two points on opposite sides of the Earth varies by up to two degrees, or four times the diameter of the full moon.

This means that if the Moon is aligned to pass in front of a particular object for an observer on one side of the Earth, it will appear up to two degrees away from that object on the other side of the Earth.

On this occasion, the occultation will be visible from Fairfield. It will begin with the disappearance of Neptune behind the Moon at 21:16 ESTin the southern sky at an altitude of 44.6 degrees. Its reappearance will be visible at 22:26 ESTat an altitude of 37.6 degrees.

At the time of the occultation, the Moon will be 11 days past new moon and will be 80% illuminated. Neptune will disappear behind the unilluminated side of the Moon and reappear from behind the illuminated side of the Moon.

The map below shows the visibility of the occultation across the world. Separate contours show where the disappearance of Neptune is visible (shown in red), and where its reappearance is visible (shown in blue). Solid contours show where each event is likely to be visible through binoculars at a reasonable altitude in the sky. Dotted contours indicate where each event occurs above the horizon, but may not be visible due to the sky being too bright or the Moon being very close to the horizon.

Outside of the contours, the Moon does not pass in front of Neptune at any time, or is below the horizon at the time of the occultation.

The map below can be downloaded in PNG , PDF or SVG format. A KMZ file , is also available, which can be opened in Google Earth to provide a higher resolution map.

Map showing where the occultation is visible

The position of Neptune at the moment of the occultation will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Neptune 23h50m50s 2°24'S Pisces 7.8 0'02"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 11 November 2024
Sunrise
06:38
Sunset
16:38
Twilight ends
18:14
Twilight begins
05:02

10-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous

84%

10 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:36 13:05 17:33
Venus 10:01 14:26 18:51
Moon 14:16 20:17 02:27
Mars 21:27 04:51 12:15
Jupiter 18:17 01:44 09:11
Saturn 13:54 19:26 00:58
All times shown in EST.

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.

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23 Sep 2025  –  Neptune at opposition
25 Sep 2026  –  Neptune at opposition
28 Sep 2027  –  Neptune at opposition

Image credit

The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.

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