136108 Haumea at opposition

Tuesday 16th Apr 201900:23

136108 Haumea will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Bootes. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.

From London, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 21:21 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 28° above your eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 04:34, 41° above your south-western horizon.

136108 Haumea opposite the Sun

This optimal positioning occurs when 136108 Haumea 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 136108 Haumea 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 136108 Haumea lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that 136108 Haumea, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as 136108 Haumea.

In practice, however, 136108 Haumea orbits much further out in the solar system than the Earth – at an average distance from the Sun of 43.34 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, 136108 Haumea will lie at a distance of 49.54 AU, and reach a peak brightness of magnitude 17.3. Even at its closest approach to the Earth, however, 136108 Haumea is so distant from the Earth that it is not possible to distinguish it as more than a star-like point of light.

136108 Haumea in coming weeks

Over the weeks following its opposition, 136108 Haumea 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 136108 Haumea across the sky in 2019 can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.

The position of 136108 Haumea at the moment it passes opposition will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
136108 Haumea 14h16m30s +16°46' Bootes 17.3 0.0"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

This entry in the observing calendar was provided by In-The-Sky.org