Neptune in 2024

The path of Neptune against the background stars in 2024

The chart shows the path of Neptune across the background stars over the course of the year. Stars to magnitude +10.5 are shown. The white circles represent the planet on the first day of the month and are scaled according to apparent magnitude. The faint paths before the first circle and after the last circle represent the planet's positions in December of last year and January of next. In general, the planet moves from right to left except when it's in retrograde and proceding in the opposite direction.

The lower chart shows how the appearance of Neptune changes over the year. Below each image is listed the date, the apparent magnitude, the apparent diameter of the disk (in arc-seconds) and the geocentric distance (in au). Because the relative distance of Neptune does not greatly vary throughout the year, neither does its appearance through a telescope.

Neptune is the most distant planet in the solar system from the Sun and the smallest of the four gas giants. Because of its great distance, it is not visible to the naked eye so a small telescope is always necessary to observe it. The blue ice giant entered Pisces at the end of last year; it remains in this constellation until 2029 when it briefly dips into Cetus. Neptune is an evening sky object at the beginning of the year, but it sets a little earlier every night and vanishes in the twilight by March, reaching conjunction on the 17 March. It soon returns to the morning sky, preceding the Sun above the horizon. It rises before midnight from mid-June, reaching opposition on 20 September. This distant world is occulted by the Moon every month this year.

All times and dates are in UT. Positions are geocentric apparent places, referred to the true equator and equinox of date.

1maximum declination south: −3.22°
15lunar occultation: 0.9° north of the Moon (visible from the southern Atlantic Ocean)
12lunar occultation: 0.7° north of the Moon (visible from Melanesia, including Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia)
220.1° north of the fifth-magnitude star 20 Psc
8planetary conjunction: 0.4° north of Mercury
10lunar occultation: 0.5° north of the Moon (daytime event)
3planetary conjunction: 0.3° north of Venus
7lunar occultation: 0.4° north of the Moon (daytime event)
29planetary conjunction: 0.03° south of Mars
4lunar occultation: 0.3° north of the Moon (visible from southeastern Australia and New Zealand)
1lunar occultation: 0.02° north of the Moon (visible from southern Africa and Madagascar)
20west quadrature
28lunar occultation: 0.3° south of the Moon (visible from Costa Rica, Panama and northern South America)
maximum declination north: −1.34°
2stationary in ecliptic longitude: direct → retrograde
3stationary in right ascension: direct → retrograde
25lunar occultation: 0.6° south of the Moon (visible from Melanesia, including Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and the central Pacific Ocean)
21lunar occultation: 0.7° south of the Moon (visible from northern Africa, the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East, eastern Europe, central Asia and Russia)
18lunar occultation: 0.7° south of the Moon (visible from Hawaii and most of North America)
20opposition: magnitude +7.8, apparent diameter 2.53 arc-seconds
15lunar occultation: 0.6° south of the Moon (visible from central Africa, the Middle East, India and central Asia)
12lunar occultation: 0.6° south of the Moon (visible from most of North America except the northwest)
8stationary in ecliptic longitude: retrograde → direct
stationary in right ascension: retrograde → direct
9lunar occultation: 0.8° south of the Moon (visible from northeastern China, Mongolia, northeastern Russia, Japan and western Alaska)
18east quadrature