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planetary predictive path website?

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#1 mrflibbles

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Posted 27 June 2021 - 11:41 PM

Is there a website that predicts the path of the planets for any given location? That also tells you when the next best time is for every planet?

Like https://www.timeandd...stronomy/night/ ? But with a reverse lookup?

By this i mean looking up "when" the optimal azimuth is. And also in oposition. So you put venus oposition, high altitude at midnight, then it spits out when that is.

With timeanddate you can put in future dates, then with trial and error you can advance a week or a month. Which is tedious.

In other words. Something that says this is the next optimum time and day to view mars, jupiter etc. So that you can plan for when things are optimal. Obviously weather is a factor, but that is luck. At least you would be able pinpoint that x-month on x-day mars will be high in the sky in oposition at 1am.

Does such thing exist?

Edited by mrflibbles, 27 June 2021 - 11:46 PM.

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#2 Thomas Marshall

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 01:01 AM

I'm not sure where you are, - but I don't know if Venus Ever is high or even visible at midnight." Stellarium"  has features that allow you to rapidly advance or decrease the times or days or weeks or months of any planets position, and see it progress through the zodiac quickly. It also shows grids to ascertain it's elevation above horizon  at any time/date. You can also zoom in or out to get precise star patterns at any time to easily pinpoint location. It's easy to pick a planet and get a quick overview of it's changing position thru the year, to find the best days for observing from your location.  


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#3 Astrojensen

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 01:40 AM

Is there a website that predicts the path of the planets for any given location? That also tells you when the next best time is for every planet?

Like https://www.timeandd...stronomy/night/ ? But with a reverse lookup?

By this i mean looking up "when" the optimal azimuth is. And also in oposition. So you put venus oposition, high altitude at midnight, then it spits out when that is.

With timeanddate you can put in future dates, then with trial and error you can advance a week or a month. Which is tedious.

In other words. Something that says this is the next optimum time and day to view mars, jupiter etc. So that you can plan for when things are optimal. Obviously weather is a factor, but that is luck. At least you would be able pinpoint that x-month on x-day mars will be high in the sky in oposition at 1am.

Does such thing exist?

Looking up when the planets will be in opposition or greatest elongation is as simple as asking Google, but you got this completely backwards. There is no single, optimum day to observe a planet, nothing that can be predicted like that, anyways. You can obviously predict, when an outer planet is at opposition (precisely at south and highest in the sky at midnight) or an interior planet is at maximum elongation (farthest from the Sun), but in both cases, you want to observe them for as long as possible before and after, to maximize your chances of hitting a night of best seeing, as well as train your eye to see the details. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all cross the meridian and are at an optimal position at one time or another each night for many months before and after opposition. Venus can also be followed for months on both sides of greatest elongation. Mercury is far trickier, as it moves extremely quickly, and you basically have to keep an eye out for it and just look up its position, whenever an opportunity for good conditions arrive. It's best to observe Mercury in daylight. 

 

I use Stellarium, if I want the exact position of a planet at any given time. I use it a lot, when I'm observing Mercury or Venus in the daytime, offsetting with setting circles from the Sun. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark 


Edited by Astrojensen, 28 June 2021 - 01:42 AM.

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#4 spereira

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 07:20 AM

Moving to Solar System Observing.

 

smp



#5 sevenofnine

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 09:37 AM

Antekythera Mechanism that was made 2000 years ago predicted the movement of known planets and Moon with remarkable precision. Even lunar phases and it's elliptical orbit were shown with a clockwork mechanism turned with a hand crank. 

 

Just for fun...not a serious answer to your question waytogo.gif  


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#6 mrflibbles

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 11:14 AM

I'm not sure where you are, - but I don't know if Venus Ever is high or even visible at midnight." Stellarium"  has features that allow you to rapidly advance or decrease the times or days or weeks or months of any planets position, and see it progress through the zodiac quickly. It also shows grids to ascertain it's elevation above horizon  at any time/date. You can also zoom in or out to get precise star patterns at any time to easily pinpoint location. It's easy to pick a planet and get a quick overview of it's changing position thru the year, to find the best days for observing from your location.


Yeah I think that's what I am talking about, I will have to try that. I said azimuth but I meant zenith.

When I said Venus I was speaking hypothetically. I just mean at each planets highest point at their darkest (or at least high enough at the darkest)
For a real example: Mars reaches it's meridian at 57.88* which is great, problem is that it reaches it at 4 in the afternoon. Obviously this is not optimal. As time progresses it reaches it's meridian earlier and earlier. Right now once it is dark, Mars has gone below the horizon. Even a month or so ago it was above the horizon after dark, but still near the horizon. The closer it is to the horizon, the harder it is to see because of the atmosphere. So seeing is poor. Timeaddate predicts the seeing of each planet, due to its position and what time it is in that position. Yes there is no single optimum day, but there are days when seeing is optimum, because of the altitude and the time in the day it is when they reach that.
timeanddate.jpg

Basically what I want to know is when will the next time Mars will be back in the night, but not just Mars.

Looking up when the planets will be in opposition or greatest elongation is as simple as asking Google,.....
Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


I tried searching when the next time mars is at it's highest, with multiple different search terms. All I got was articles from 2012, how to see mars, (best view of mars untill 2035! date of article: Oct 6 2020) Also it doesn't matter when each planet is in opposition, if that happens when the sun is out. There is the article I mentioned earlier Mars is best until 2035. How do they know that?

#7 zleonis

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 01:25 PM

...
Also it doesn't matter when each planet is in opposition, if that happens when the sun is out. There is the article I mentioned earlier Mars is best until 2035. How do they know that?

When a planet is at opposition (that is, when it’s opposite the sun in the sky, or its ecliptic longitude differs from the sun’s by 180°), that means that the sun, earth, and the planet will lie along the same line, more or less, and the planet will be near its closest approach to earth for that orbit. At opposition, the planet will be at its highest in the sky around local midnight (it could vary a bit based on daylight saving time, time zones, etc).

 

Opposition is most important for Mars - since its closest to us, its apparent size varies substantially, from about 4" at solar conjunction (when it's behind the sun) to 25" or so at a favorable opposition. The difference is less pronounced for Jupiter and Saturn since they're further away - Jupiter varies from 30"-50", Saturn from about 15"-20". So if Jupiter or Saturn is up and relatively high in the sky (and it's dark-ish), you can get decent views if seeing, etc. cooperate. But if you'd tried to view Mars back in March around nightfall, even though it was high in the sky, it would only have been a tiny 5" disk and hard to see much detail. 


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#8 mrflibbles

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 02:52 PM

Opposition is most important for Mars - since its closest to us, its apparent size varies substantially, from about 4" at solar conjunction (when it's behind the sun) to 25" or so at a favorable opposition. The difference is less pronounced for Jupiter and Saturn since they're further away - Jupiter varies from 30"-50", Saturn from about 15"-20". So if Jupiter or Saturn is up and relatively high in the sky (and it's dark-ish), you can get decent views if seeing, etc. cooperate. But if you'd tried to view Mars back in March around nightfall, even though it was high in the sky, it would only have been a tiny 5" disk and hard to see much detail. 

Yes Exactly! Basically what I want to know is when it's going to be good again, and if there's a program or website that lets you know when the next time things are going to be good. The next time its going to be favorable for Mars, Venus etc. Yes Jupiter and Saturn being so far away it doesn't make much difference, but it would be nice to know when their conditions are going to be the "most favorable" regardless of it being discernable to the naked eye. Especially using a lucky imaging program like registaxx.  

 

Right now with timeanddate you can look far into the future and it will predict the trajectory for any given future date. You could use it to look up a planet like mars and figure out when its going to be close to us, high in the sky and 2 hours after sundown. It will then  predict visibility as "not visible" all the way up to "excellent" if you could reverse look up when a planets next "excellent" conditions were, that would make it easier to plan ahead. Something like Neptune will never be "excellent" but there are times when it becomes "the most favorable conditions for that particular planet" each planet has its most favorable or optimal positions. What I want to know is when those "optimal positions" are going to be. A program that could tell you would be awesome. (I'm just using Neptune as a hypothetical example, I'm not specifically talking about Neptune, I mean any planet) 

 

Would it not be valuable to you to know the next time Mars(or any planet) is going to be at its highest and closest its going to be, well before hand? I know it would be for me. If conditions are just going to be good, then I can view from my back deck, but if its going to be the best it's going to be in 100 years or even 1 year. Then you bet I'm going to get my butt out to a dark sky site. Not just Mars "any planets best time" or even the days leading up to it. I might even go so far as to book time off of work in advance. 

 

I'm at work so I haven't tried Stellarium yet. 


Edited by mrflibbles, 28 June 2021 - 02:54 PM.


#9 zleonis

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 03:24 PM

The mobile/table app Sky Safari, will tell you when the next opposition of a given object in the 'object info' section (and if you click the clock next to the time, you can see its declination and angular size, etc). The closest approach can differ from opposition by a few days, but the appearance won't change much.For Mars in particular, this link shows the next few oppositions of Mars, along with the closest approach, angular size, coordinates, etc. https://spider.seds....s/marsopps.html. Jupiter is at opposition in mid-August this year, and each year it reaches opposition about a month later, Saturn is at opposition in early August, and its oppositions get about 2 weeks later each year. 

 

The time and date website feature looks interesting in terms of naked eye visibility, but I don't think its ratings are useful telescopically - it says that Mars' visibility tonight is 'Good' after twlight, when it's 9° above the horizon with an angular diameter of less than 4".



#10 Astrojensen

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 03:31 PM

If conditions are just going to be good, then I can view from my back deck, but if its going to be the best it's going to be in 100 years or even 1 year. Then you bet I'm going to get my butt out to a dark sky site. Not just Mars "any planets best time" or even the days leading up to it. I might even go so far as to book time off of work in advance. 

*facepalm*

 

When observing planets, what you want is good seeing, not dark skies. And many dark sky sites do not have particularly good seeing. There is certainly no correlation between the two. And a very dark sky can in many ways be counterproductive to the best planetary views, due to glare from the bright planet in the dark sky. Superb planetary observing condition often happen in bright twilight, when the planet is high in the sky at quadrature AND NOT AT OPPOSITION, because the bright sky background allows the eye to pick up subtle contrast features on the planet, without glare issues. 

 

Observing the planets in a bright city sky can actually be advantageous and my best planetary views, by far, has happened at a late friend's observatory in the suburbs of Copenhagen. 

 

And you're seriously NOT going to get very good views, if you wait ten years to observe Jupiter, until it is at its absolute best. You want to go out TONIGHT and observe it. It may not be at its finest, but you'll need all the experience you can gather. And that night of unforgettably steady seeing may not happen on the night of opposition, heck it may even be cloudy. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


Edited by Astrojensen, 28 June 2021 - 03:34 PM.

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#11 mrflibbles

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 05:44 PM

*facepalm*

 

When observing planets, what you want is good seeing, not dark skies. And many dark sky sites do not have particularly good seeing. There is certainly no correlation between the two. And a very dark sky can in many ways be counterproductive to the best planetary views, due to glare from the bright planet in the dark sky. Superb planetary observing condition often happen in bright twilight, when the planet is high in the sky at quadrature AND NOT AT OPPOSITION, because the bright sky background allows the eye to pick up subtle contrast features on the planet, without glare issues. 

 

Observing the planets in a bright city sky can actually be advantageous and my best planetary views, by far, has happened at a late friend's observatory in the suburbs of Copenhagen. 

 

And you're seriously NOT going to get very good views, if you wait ten years to observe Jupiter, until it is at its absolute best. You want to go out TONIGHT and observe it. It may not be at its finest, but you'll need all the experience you can gather. And that night of unforgettably steady seeing may not happen on the night of opposition, heck it may even be cloudy. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark

Wouldn't a brighter planet allow you to turn the ISO down to get less noise? Or add a narrower eyepiece and not worry about the loss of light, if you are just viewing? This is something I don't know which is why I'm asking questions. Obviously you aren't going to wait 10 years, but wouldn't you want to know if it's the best it's going to be for 10 years? 

 

Right now by the time you get to see mars its very close to disappearing below the horizon, (especially in a mountainous area) and you don't get a lot of time for viewing. But eventually it will be back up on the horizon, I don't know when that is, I tried asking Google, and I can't get an answer. 

 

Atmosphere and clouds are always going to get in the way, but favorable conditions for viewing and photographing get more or less favorable at different times of the year. Would it not be nice to know when conditions are favorable, regardless of variables you can't control like weather? Regardless of which parameters are the most favorable, each planet has a position and at certain times of the year when they are better than other times of the year, or not even visible.  A closer and higher(on the horizon) planet is going to be more favorable than a farther and lower (on the horizon) planet in the same weather conditions, is it not?



#12 Napp

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 06:03 PM

You are going to have to be patient for planetary observing.  Mars moves to its own rhythm.  Opposition is good but there are better oppositions than others depending on Mars distance and your location.  Check out the ALPO Mars Café for a wealth of info on Mars and observing Mars.  There is a lot of info on future Mars oppositions.  The Mars Cafe is at http://www.alpo-astronomy.org/jbeish/.  If you are serious about observing Mars and other planets join the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO).  I just checked the Mars Cafe.  The site is down for maintenance until July 1.



#13 mrflibbles

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 06:30 PM

You are going to have to be patient for planetary observing.  Mars moves to its own rhythm.  Opposition is good but there are better oppositions than others depending on Mars distance and your location.  Check out the ALPO Mars Café for a wealth of info on Mars and observing Mars.  There is a lot of info on future Mars oppositions.  The Mars Cafe is at http://www.alpo-astronomy.org/jbeish/.  If you are serious about observing Mars and other planets join the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO).  I just checked the Mars Cafe.  The site is down for maintenance until July 1.

That is helpful thank you. 



#14 Napp

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 07:29 PM

Thomas pointed out important points about planetary observing.  You want good seeing above all else.  I have had really good sessions in twilight, heavy light pollution and through a thin layer of high clouds.  I have had terrible sessions on clear, dark nights.  Dark sky site - don’t need it.  As Thomas pointed out it may even be worse.  For the big outer planets opposition is not that important.  There isn’t that much difference in distance to the big outer planets based on orbital positions.  The planet being high in the sky is good.  So watch forecasts of sky conditions.  The Astrospheric app and Meteoblue are good.  Is the jet stream above your location?  If so, you are not going to have good conditions for planetary observing.  Observe your sky.  Are the stars steady or twinkling?  Steady is good, twinkling not.  Set up over grass, not pavement.  Try not to observe across rooftops or pavement.  Both collect heat during the day and radiate it back out during the night.  That creates turbulence in the air above them.  Mars is one of the tougher planets to observe.  It’s orbit is close enough to earth’s that orbital positions make a huge difference in the distance between the planets.  Opposition is good, but you want to be observing for several months around opposition.  Why?  Earth’s weather doesn’t necessarily cooperate.  And Mars goes through changes as it approaches and recedes from opposition.  It’s fascinating to follow those changes.  And there is always the possibility of a planet wide dust storm that can obscure the whole planet.  The next opposition in 2022 will not be as close as the last.  But Mars will be higher in the sky for northern hemisphere observers.  Everything’s a compromise.  Some of the “best” oppositions may be obscured by dust storms.  Your weather can go sour.  You have to make the best of every opportunity.  A friend of mine is a very good planetary photographer.  He has been getting up early to shoot Jupiter in particular.  He doesn’t wait for everything to be perfect.  He just works with what opportunities are presented.  He has been amazing me with some of his photos that were taken in not very good conditions.  How did he get so good?  He practiced a lot in not so good conditions so he was ready for those rare times everything comes together.  Same goes for visual observing.  Don’t wait for everything to be perfect.  You have to practice observing and build your skills.  Wait for everything to be perfect and then observe?  No, you will miss a lot.  A lot of the features of planets, especially Mars, are very subtle.  I observed it for months around the last opposition.  I definitely was seeing more subtle features the more I observed.  So get out there and observe.  Don’t wait for the best time.  It may not happen.


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#15 mrflibbles

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 08:57 PM

Thomas pointed out important points about planetary observing.  You want good seeing above all else.  I have had really good sessions in twilight, heavy light pollution and through a thin layer of high clouds.  I have had terrible sessions on clear, dark nights.  Dark sky site - don’t need it.  As Thomas pointed out it may even be worse.  For the big outer planets opposition is not that important.  There isn’t that much difference in distance to the big outer planets based on orbital positions.  The planet being high in the sky is good.  So watch forecasts of sky conditions.  The Astrospheric app and Meteoblue are good.  Is the jet stream above your location?  If so, you are not going to have good conditions for planetary observing.  Observe your sky.  Are the stars steady or twinkling?  Steady is good, twinkling not.  Set up over grass, not pavement.  Try not to observe across rooftops or pavement.  Both collect heat during the day and radiate it back out during the night.  That creates turbulence in the air above them.  Mars is one of the tougher planets to observe.  It’s orbit is close enough to earth’s that orbital positions make a huge difference in the distance between the planets.  Opposition is good, but you want to be observing for several months around opposition.  Why?  Earth’s weather doesn’t necessarily cooperate.  And Mars goes through changes as it approaches and recedes from opposition.  It’s fascinating to follow those changes.  And there is always the possibility of a planet wide dust storm that can obscure the whole planet.  The next opposition in 2022 will not be as close as the last.  But Mars will be higher in the sky for northern hemisphere observers.  Everything’s a compromise.  Some of the “best” oppositions may be obscured by dust storms.  Your weather can go sour.  You have to make the best of every opportunity.  A friend of mine is a very good planetary photographer.  He has been getting up early to shoot Jupiter in particular.  He doesn’t wait for everything to be perfect.  He just works with what opportunities are presented.  He has been amazing me with some of his photos that were taken in not very good conditions.  How did he get so good?  He practiced a lot in not so good conditions so he was ready for those rare times everything comes together.  Same goes for visual observing.  Don’t wait for everything to be perfect.  You have to practice observing and build your skills.  Wait for everything to be perfect and then observe?  No, you will miss a lot.  A lot of the features of planets, especially Mars, are very subtle.  I observed it for months around the last opposition.  I definitely was seeing more subtle features the more I observed.  So get out there and observe.  Don’t wait for the best time.  It may not happen.

 

Yeah I'm not explaining things correctly. I'm not worried about everything being perfect. I'm using someone else's example of, when Mars was perfect, and asking how they knew that. They must have gotten that information somewhere.

 

Lets take Jupiter for example: 3 months ago Jupiter rose at 3:58Am where I am. Now 3 months later Jupiter now rises at 12:15Am. At some point its going to rise before sunset. Making it difficult or impossible to see until a certain point. If you go as far as April of 2022 Jupiter then rises at 4:56am near sunrise. How does one predict when it's going rise near sunset again after that? When Jupiter rises just before sunrise, someone like me is not going to get a lot of opportunity to view it before it becomes not visible. So for me it would be nice to have a resource that lets you know when I can get the next opportunity for viewing at better times. 

 

Now apply that same logic to all of the planets.

 

For me Jupiter rising at 12:15 is much more beneficial to me, because its not an ungodly hour. Sometimes I have to work at 5:45am and sometimes 7, other times 11. Knowing when Jupiter rises again at 12:15 after April of 2022 would be valuable to me. Someone must know. 

 

Mars is going to be really good in Dec 2022, but that is when it is at its peak, but I'm sure months before that it's still going to be good viewing. But until it starts being visible before sunset  or before sunrise, clear skies are not even going to factor into the equation, because it would be a waste of time to even try before it is visible. Knowing when Mars is going to be high enough to see again, for more time than it is now, would be useful.

 

So in Dec 8 2022, mars is going to be visible for roughly 9 hours, right now it is visible for roughly 1. Eventually its going to get better than 1 hour and lead up to that 9 hours of viewing. When does that start occurring? Where do you find out when that is? When will Mars become visible for 2 hours, 3, 4 etc.?



#16 Napp

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Posted 29 June 2021 - 08:09 AM

The way I usually look for planetary positions in the future is using Sky Safari.  I do a “search” for the planet.  Then I choose to “center” the planet.  Now if I do not touch the screen in the display area I can increment time by minutes, hours, days, months or years to see where the planet will be.  It’s very easy.

 

 

The outer planets don’t move very much each year.  For example, Jupiter is rising at about 11:30pm now.  In six months it will be close to setting at 11:30pm.  Oppositions are roughly a year apart.  Mars oppositions occur about every 26 months. 

 

 

I believe the yearly RASC Observer’s Handbook has tables of planetary positions for the year.  I can’t find my copy right now but I’m sure monthly positions are listed.

 

 

Google is your friend.  I did a quick search of "Mars opposition table" and got multiple lists of upcoming oppositions of Mars.

 

 

If none of these are good enough you can use the JPL Horizons system to create your own  ephemeris of planetary positions.  https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?horizons


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