© NASA/Galileo 1993. Pictured asteroid is 243 Ida.

Asteroid 7 Iris at opposition

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

Asteroid 7 Iris will be well placed for observation, lying in the constellation Pisces, well above the horizon for much of the night.

Regardless of your location on the Earth, 7 Iris will reach its highest point in the sky around midnight local time.

From Fairfield, it will be visible between 19:12 and 05:25. It will become accessible around 19:12, when it rises to an altitude of 21° above your eastern horizon. It will reach its highest point in the sky at 00:20, 66° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible around 05:25 when it sinks below 22° above your western horizon.

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The geometry of the alignment

This optimal positioning occurs when it makes its closest approach to the point in the sky directly opposite to the Sun – an event termed opposition. 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 7 Iris passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth – termed its perigee – making it appear at its brightest in the night sky. This happens because when 7 Iris lies opposite to the Sun in the night sky, the solar system is lined up so that 7 Iris, the Earth and the Sun lie in a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as 7 Iris.

On this occasion, 7 Iris will pass within 0.87 AU of us, reaching a peak brightness of magnitude 7.0. Nonetheless, even at its brightest, 7 Iris is a faint object beyond the reach of the naked eye or binoculars; a telescope of moderate aperture and a good star chart are needed.

Finding 7 Iris

The chart below indicates the path of 7 Iris across the sky around the time of opposition.

It was produced using StarCharter and is available for download, either on dark background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats, or on a light background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats.

The position of 7 Iris at the moment of opposition will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Asteroid 7 Iris 01h08m40s +18°04' Pisces 7.0

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 16 October 2028
Sunrise
07:04
Sunset
18:09
Twilight ends
19:41
Twilight begins
05:32

28-day old moon
Waning Crescent

4%

28 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:31 11:32 17:33
Venus 03:56 10:22 16:47
Moon 05:26 11:10 16:55
Mars 02:07 09:02 15:58
Jupiter 06:00 11:52 17:43
Saturn 18:50 01:40 08:25
All times shown in EDT.

Source

The circumstances of this event were computed from orbital elements made available by Ted Bowell of the Lowell Observatory. The conversion to geocentric coordinates was performed using the position of the Earth recorded in the DE405 ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

The star chart above shows the positions and magnitudes of stars as they appear in the Tycho catalogue. The data was reduced by the author and plotted using PyXPlot. A gnomonic projection of the sky has been used; celestial coordinates are indicated in the J2000.0 coordinate system.

Image credit

© NASA/Galileo 1993. Pictured asteroid is 243 Ida.

Fairfield

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

41.14°N
73.26°W
EDT

Color scheme