Jupiter and Uranus meet in the sky

Diagram: Orbits of planets with lines from sun and Earth to Jupiter and Uranus.
View larger. | Jupiter and Uranus meet in the sky! In this view from 15 degrees north of the ecliptic plane, the paths of the planets are shown in March, with sightlines from Earth to Uranus and from the sun to Uranus on March 14. Image via Guy Ottewell.

UK astronomer Guy Ottewell published his article at his website on March 14, 2024. Reprinted with permission. Edits by EarthSky.

Jupiter and Uranus meet

On March 14, 2024, Jupiter overtakes his grandfather! In modern-day-terms, Jupiter and Uranus will be at heliocentric conjunction – that is, in the same direction as seen from the sun – for the first time since April 21, 1941, just under 83 years ago.

As seen from Earth, Jupiter and Uranus are not far “left” (east) of the sun in the evening sky. The conjunction as seen from Earth does not happen until April 21, when brilliant Jupiter (magnitude -2) will appear 1/2 degree south of dim Uranus (magnitude 5.8, barely visible to the unaided eye).

The four giant planets are still in one quadrant of the sky, starting in the order Saturn-Neptune-Jupiter-Uranus. But Jupiter overtakes Uranus this year, so that the angular span begins to widen. By the year’s end, the span between the four outer gas giants – as seen from Earth – will be 89 degrees on our sky’s dome.

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See Jupiter in the sky tonight

On the evening of March 14, 2024, the lighted face of the waxing crescent moon points toward bright Jupiter in the sky. And the moon is near the tiny, misty dipper-shaped Pleiades star cluster, or Seven Sisters. They’ll set around midnight.

Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view – and time – from your location, try Stellarium Online.

White dots for the moon, Jupiter and star cluster on March 13 and 14 along a steep green ecliptic line.
Chart by EarthSky.

Bottom line: Jupiter and Uranus will be at heliocentric conjunction on March 14. Their conjunction as seen from Earth will be on April 21.

Via Guy Ottewell

March 14, 2024

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