Uranus 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.
This motion was known to ancient observers, and it troubled them as they could not reconcile it with models in which the planets moved in uniform circular orbits around the Earth, as they believed.
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:
2029–2030 apparition of Uranus
|23 Sep 2029||–||Uranus enters retrograde motion|
|08 Dec 2029||–||Uranus at opposition|
|20 Feb 2030||–||Uranus ends retrograde motion|
Uranus enters retrograde motion as its 2029–2030 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|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.
Over the following weeks, Uranus 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 23 September 2029|
15 days old
All times shown in EDT.
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.
|03 Dec 2028||– Uranus at opposition|
|08 Dec 2029||– Uranus at opposition|
|12 Dec 2030||– Uranus at opposition|
|17 Dec 2031||– Uranus at opposition|
© NASA/Voyager 2