Every year, 4 planets go into opposition, which is Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus. At this time of the year, it is the best time to view each astronomical object. The season during which the objects come to opposition determine visibility in regards to weather and location in the sky.
Saturn and Jupiter can be found in opposition in August, which according to the average weather ranges from 19% to 28% cloud cover per night.
Aug. 2: Saturn at opposition. The ringed planet will be directly opposite the sun in Earth’s sky around the same time that it makes its closest approach to Earth all year. This also means it will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year. Saturn will reach its highest point in the night sky around midnight.
Aug. 19: Jupiter at opposition. The gas giant will be directly opposite the sun in Earth’s sky around the same time that it makes its closest approach to Earth of the year. The planet will shine at its biggest and brightest tonight and will be visible all night long.
Sept. 14: Neptune at opposition. The gas giant will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year, shining at magnitude 7.8. To view Neptune, you will need a telescope. In September, the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy anywhere from 28% to 42% of the nights in the month in average.
Nov. 4: Uranus is at opposition, meaning it will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year. Shining at magnitude 5.7, the planet will be visible all night long in the constellation Aries. Uranus may be to the naked eye from dark locations but is best seen through a telescope or binoculars. In November, the percentage of time that the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy increasing from 65% to 75%.
To learn about what an astronomical opposition is, check out this article on the subject. To learn more about celestial objects such as these, make sure to continue to visit CosmosPNW.