August 24 – Neptune At Opposition

The blue planet of Neptune will be considered at close proximity to earth on August 24, 2012. However, to view this planet during this time you will need a strong telescope. Even though the planet will be the largest and brightest object in the night sky, it will still only appear as a small blue dot unless commercial-grade equipment is utilized.
This spectacular view of Neptune will be possible because during this time it will be so well illuminated by the sun. Neptune is currently located in the Aquarius constellation and will stay there all through 2012. It is possible to view the planet Neptune from Aquarius because it will be well-placed above the horizon.
Regardless of your global position, Neptune will be at its zenith at midnight. The exact moment when this will be realized is at 12:17 UTC (Universal Coordinated Time). During this time, also known as the perigee, the blue planet will be nearest to the earth.

How Opposition Of Neptune Occurs
Opposition of Neptune with the earth takes place when the two ecliptic longitudes differ by 180 degrees when viewed from the earth. During opposition, the earth and the sun lie in a straight line, with the earth at the middle on the same side as the blue planet.
During opposition, Neptune will be at a distance of 29.98 AU (Astronomical Unit) with a disk diameter of 2.4 arcseconds as it shines at a magnitude of 7.8.

More About The Blue Planet
Neptune is considered to be a superior planet and is quite unique in the sense that it has a blue color. This planet was discovered by Urbain Le Verrier on September 23, 1846, and unlike other planets, it was discovered by mathematical calculation rather than through observation. It also found it’s way into both Roman and Greek mythology. In Greek history, Neptune was known as Poseidon and was the God of the sea.
The planet appears blue in color due to the traces of methane present in its outermost region. Another fascinating fact about the blue planet is that it has 13 known moons. But due to it’s great distance from the earth, it is not possible to see this planet with the naked eye.

Best Time To See Neptune
The best time to see Neptune is from August 22 through August 24. Anytime between midnight and daylight is acceptable. In order to maximize your visibility, you will want to stay as far away from artificial lighting as possible.

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