Planet Oppositions

Listed below is information about major planet oppositions in the next 15 years (2005 to 2020). The info will be useful for both visual observing and for planetary imagers who can’t wait for an opportunity to image the big 3 when they’re high in the Southern sky!

The information listed includes:

  • Opposition Date – the date of opposition when the Sun, the Earth and the Planet are in a straight line
  • Maximum Altitude – how high in the sky the planet will reach at midnight on opposition date
  • Angular Size – how big the planet will appear, measured in arcseconds
  • Apparent Magnitude – how bright the planet will appear

 

Planet
Mars
Jupiter
Saturn
Year
Opp Date
Max Alt
(deg)
Dia
(“)
Mag
Opp Date
Max Alt
(deg)
Dia
(“)
Mag
Opp Date
Max Alt
(deg)
Dia
(“)
Mag
2005
07-Nov
40
 20
-2.32
2006
04-May
70
45
-2.50
27-Jan
37
20
-0.23
2007
24-Dec
29
16
-1.63
05-Jun
78
46
-2.59
10-Feb
40
20
-0.04
2008
09-Jul
78
47
-2.73
24-Feb
44
20
0.20
2009
14-Aug
71
49
-2.86
08-Mar
49
20
0.49
2010
29-Jan
34
14
-1.28
21-Sep
58
50
-2.93
22-Mar
54
20
0.53
2011
29-Oct
44
50
-2.92
03-Apr
59
19
0.35
2012
03-Mar
45
14
-1.22
03-Dec
35
48
-2.83
15-Apr
63
19
0.22
2013
28-Apr
68
19
0.13
2014
08-Apr
61
15
-1.47
05-Jan
33
47
-2.70
10-May
71
19
0.06
2015
06-Feb
39
45
-2.57
23-May
74
19
0.02
2016
22-May
78
18
-2.06
08-Mar
50
44
-2.49
03-Jun
77
18
0.00
2017
07-Apr
62
44
-2.46
15-Jun
78
18
0.00
2018
27-Jul
81
24
-2.78
09-May
72
45
-2.51
27-Jun
78
18
0.02
2019
10-Jun
78
46
-2.61
09-Jul
78
18
0.05
2020
13-Oct
50
22
-2.62
14-Jul
78
48
-2.75
20-Jul
76
18
0.10
Summary:

Mars is getting smaller each opposition, with 2010 being the worst year with a low altitude and a small angular size. It starts improving from 2014, with 2018 being the best Mars opposition in the next 15 years as it will be high in the sky and a massive 24″ in diameter.

Jupiter is well placed for us in the next few years with 2007 being the best as it will be high in the sky and 47″ in diameter. It will be at its largest, a whopping 50″ in 2010, but it will be lower in the sky. It gets worse after that, 2014 is when it will be at its lowest (only 33 deg).

Saturn is not good for us in 2006 – it will be at its worst for the next 15 years in terms of altitude. It gets better from then on though, peaking in 2017 at 78 deg altitude while still being a respectable 18″ in size.

 Legend:

   Best Altitude
 Biggest Size
 Brightest
 Overall Best Year
 Worst Altitude
 Smallest Size
 Dimmest
 Overall Worst Year