Finder Chart for Neptune for 2012 (click for full-size image, 77 KB). Positions are marked on the first day of each month (a Southern hemisphere view can be found here, 79 KB). Where the planet was too close to the Sun to be visible, the path is shown as a dashed line.
In 2012, Neptune reached opposition to the Sun (when it was brightest in the sky for the year and closest to the Earth) on August 24th, when its apparent magnitude was +7.8 and its apparent diameter was 2".4 (2.4 arcseconds). The planet was then 28.984 AU (4,336 million kms or 2,694 million miles) from Earth.
Much of the star field in the chart should be easily contained within a binocular field of view (which typically ranges from 5° to 9°). Stars are shown down to magnitude +8.5. Right Ascension and Declination co-ordinates are marked around the border, for cross-referencing with a star atlas. Printer-friendly (greyscale) versions of the chart are available for Northern (35 KB) and Southern hemisphere (36 KB) views.
Click here (66 KB) to see a 'clean' star map of the area (i.e. without planet path); a printable version can be found here (31 KB).
Copyright Martin J Powell February 2009