136472 Makemake at solar conjunction

2016 Sep 24

Dominic Ford – originally published on In-The-Sky.org

From our vantage point on the Earth, 136472 Makemake will appear very close to the Sun in the sky as it passes around the far side of the solar system from the Earth.

At closest approach, 136472 Makemake and the Sun will appear at a separation of only 27°, making 136472 Makemake totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun’s glare.

At around the same time, 136472 Makemake will also be at its most distant from the Earth – receding to a distance of 53.35 AU – since the two planets will lie on opposite sides of the solar system.

If 136472 Makemake could be observed at this time, it would appear at its smallest and faintest on account of its large distance. It would measure 0.0 arcsec in diameter.

Over following weeks and months, 136472 Makemake will re-emerge to the west of the Sun, gradually becoming visible for ever-longer periods in the pre-dawn sky. After around six months, it will reach opposition, when it will be visible for virtually the whole night. A chart of the path of 136472 Makemake across the night sky can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.

The position of 136472 Makemake at the moment it passes solar conjunction will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
136472 Makemake 12h55m00s +24°34' Coma Berenices 0.0"
Sun 12h07m -00°51' Virgo 31'53"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The details of this observing event were provided courtesy of In-The-Sky.org