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Visible planets retrogrades 2009 – 2020 January 22, 2011

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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There have been several times recently when I have needed to know when one of the 5 naked-eye planets would exhibit retrograde motion.  Each time, I’ve had to go hunting for that information.  So I decided to do what I always do when I need some strange piece of information and can’t find a convenient resource:

Compile it myself and blog about it.

So here it is, a list of the retrogrades of the naked-eye planets, November 2009 – December 2020 (except Mercury – I started with January 2011 for him.)  Also included is the constellation the planet is in mid-retrograde, since that tells me what area of the sky it’s in.

Why would one need such a list?

Well the outer planets will be at their biggest and brightest during retrograde, and continue to be evening planets after retrograde, so the best time to plan to observe them in the evening (when most star parties are planned) is during or after retrograde.  For the inner planets, they retrograde a short while after their best evening appearance, and give their best morning appearance about the time they end retrograde.

Also, it’s very handy if you are trying to write a planetarium show to demonstrate retrograde motion.

Retrogrades of the Naked – Eye planets


late March – April 2011    Pisces
August 2111    Leo
mid November – Mid December    Ophiuchus
March 2012    Pisces
mid July – early August 2012    Cancer
November 2012    Libra
Mid February – Mid March 2013    Pisces
July 2013    Gemini
late October – mid November 2013    Libra
February 2014    Aquarius
June 2014    Taurus
October 2014    Virgo
mid January – mid February 2015    Aquarius
mid may – early June 2015    Taurus
mid September – early October 2015    Virgo
January 2016    Sagittarius
late April – mid may 2016    Aries
end August – mid September 2016    Virgo
mid December – early January 2017    Sagittarius
Early April – early May 2017    Pisces
mid August – early September 2017    Leo
December 2017    Ophiuchus
mid March – mid April 2018    Pisces
late July – mid August 2018     Leo
mid November – early December 2018    Libra
March 2019    Pisces
July 2019    Cancer
November 2019    Libra
mid February – early March 2020    Aquarius
Mid June – early July 2020    Gemini
Mid October – early November 2020    Virgo


Mid October – Mid November 2010        Virgo
Mid May – late June 2012    Taurus
Late December 2013 – early February 2014    Sagittarius
Late July  – Early September 2015    Cancer
March – mid April 2017    Aquarius
Early October – mid November 2018    Virgo
Mid May – late June 2020    Aries


late December 2009 – mid March 2010    Leo
Late January – mid April 2012    Leo
Early March – April 2014    Virgo
Mid April – June 2016    Libra
Late June – late August 2018    Capricorn
Mid September – mid November 2020    Pisces


Early August – late November 2010    Pisces
Early September 2011 – early January 2012    Aries
Mid October 2012 – early February 2013    Taurus
Mid November 2013 – mid March 2014     Gemini
Mid December 2014 – late April 2015    Cancer
Mid January – mid May 2016    Leo
Mid February – early June 2017    Virgo
Mid March – mid July 2018    Libra
Mid April – mid August 2019    Ophiuchus
Mid May – late September 2020    Sagittarius


Mid January – mid June 2010    Virgo
Early February – mid June 2011    Virgo
Mid February – late June 2012     Virgo
Mid February – early July 2013    Libra
Early March – Late July 2014    Libra
Mid March – early August 2015    Libra
Mid March – late August 2016    Ophiuchus
Mid April – early September 2017    Ophiuchus
Early April – early September 2018    Sagittarius
Early June – late September 2019    Sagittarius
Mid May – September 2020    Sagittarius



1. n17k - November 21, 2012

Reblogged this on nikhilpattnaik.

2. n17k - November 21, 2012

Alcyone Ephemeris and Astronomical tables give the detailed results for these and for a lot of other things. the trial version is well worth checking out. This version disables the save/print/export options, still one can get some essential data out of it by noting them down.
I would have liked to try out the Multiyear Interactive Computer Almanac (MICA) software of the US Naval Observatory, but it ships in a physical form only for which I have to pay postage as much as its cost. I could find no reference to a downloadable version with online ordering. Very surprised that Will-Bell does not entertain email contact – so could not get any clarifications.
Any other ephemeris application would also work, just have to scroll through the RA data to find the stationary point and the reversal of the trend.
I will post my compilation when done.
Happy hunting.

3. Planet observing though 2020 « Shannon's Weblog - January 24, 2011

[…] other day, I compiled a list of all the retorgrades of the 5 naked-eye planets through 2020. In doing that, I realized that all three outer planets will be in retrograde […]

n17k - November 17, 2012

Can you please give the exact dates for the retrograde/direct motions? Would like to know how to compute these myself. Also the dates of heliacal setting and rising of the visible planets. Is there any software available for such computations?
I use Occult and NASA’s Skycal, but cannot find these results.

aquillam - November 19, 2012

I use Starry Night, but it doesn’t give me the exact dates for retrograde. Also, I don’t think it does heliacal rising, which of course is location dependent.
The Naval Observatory tends to keep the most accurate data for the positions of solar system objects, so I’d start with them for more accurate numbers. http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/
I’ll have to do some hunting for how to calculate it yourself. You’ll need the elongation angle at which the planet appears to stop, and I’m not sure how to figure that out.

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