What's in the Sky? Astronomical Events 2020
The 33 Astronomical Events You Need to Know for 2020
2020 started with a celestial light show in the early morning of January 4. Quadrantid meteors were seen in Europe and North America.
An excellent month for planetary viewing and imaging if you practice astrophotography! With Mercury, the Moon, and Mars positioned for a unique display.
February 9 - Full Moon, Supermoon
The first supermoon of 2020 was also known as the “Full Snow Moon” by early Native American tribes because the heaviest snowfall usually happened during this time of year.
February 10 - Mercury
At its highest viewing point above the horizon, Mercury is visible in the western sky just after sunset.
February 18 - Mars
Be prepared to wake up early to see this celestial event! Just before sunset, the Moon will have motioned in front of Mars positioning them close together in the sky.
Another great month for planetary viewing and imaging if you practice astrophotography! Mercury reaches its highest point for the east and Venus for the west.
March 9 - Full Moon, Supermoon
The second supermoon of 2020 was also known as the “Full Worm Moon” by early Native Americans. During this time of the year, the ground would become soft, allowing earthworms to come out.
March 24 - Mercury
At its highest point above the horizon, Mercury will best be viewed in the eastern sky before sunrise.
March 24 - Venus
At its highest point in the evening, look for Venus in the western sky after sunset.
“April showers bring May flowers” with the first of the spring meteor showers happening toward the end of the month and coming to a pause with the “Full Flower Moon” in May.
April 8 - Full Moon, Supermoon
It was known to early Native Americans as the “Full Pink Moon” because wild ground phlox would begin to appear. Ground phlox is also one of the first spring flowers to bloom.
April 22, 23 - Lyrids Meteor Shower
April’s new moon on the 23rd will provide ideal dark skies for viewing the Lyrids meteor shower which will produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra.
There are showers and flowers in the night sky this month. A meteor show for both hemispheres and the third of four supermoons this year.
May 6, 7 - Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower
You may plan on traveling to darker sites for this event. With the Moon being nearly full, the brighter meteors will be blocked out, but keep looking! The meteor shower is capable of producing up to 30 meteors per hour in the northern hemisphere and 60 meteors per hour in the southern hemisphere. The meteors will be radiating from the constellation of Aquarius but may appear anywhere in the sky.
May 7 - Full Moon, Supermoon
The last supermoon of the year was known to early Native American tribes as the “Full Flower Moon” because of the high rate of blooming spring flowers this time of year.
For the northern hemisphere, summer solstice also brings an annular solar eclipse that will be visible to central Africa, south of Pakistan, northern India, and China.
June 4 - Mercury
Look to the sky just after sunset when Mercury is at its highest point above the horizon of the western sky.
June 5 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
The Moon will be passing through Earth’s partial shadow, which is also known as the penumbra. The eclipse will be visible for Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
June 21 - Annular Solar Eclipse
The new moon will be passing across the face of the Sun but will not be able to cover it entirely because the Moon will be farther away than average from Earth. A small ring of sunlight will shine around the dark silhouette of the Moon.The eclipse will be visible to central Africa, south of Pakistan, northern India, and China.
A very active month for the night sky, with an eclipse, bright planets, and a meteor shower. If you haven’t observed one up to here, July is a great month for astronomy viewing!
July 5 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
The eclipse will be visible for most of North America, South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the western Atlantic Ocean.
July 14 - Jupiter
Illuminated by the Sun, Jupiter will be visible all night long. Image its moons, or view its details in its cloud bands.
July 20 - Saturn
Photograph and view its moons with its face illuminated by the Sun.
July 22 - Mercury
Reaching 20.1 degrees from the Sun, Mercury will reach its highest point above the horizon before sunrise for the eastern sky.
July 28, 29 - Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower
Travel to a dark site for clearer views of the fainter meteors. It will peak after midnight, producing up to 20 meteors per hour! The meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius but can appear from anywhere in the sky.
This month will have a lower volume of astronomical events in comparison to future months.
August 12, 13 - Perseids Meteor Shower
Traveling to dark sites won’t be necessary for this bright meteor shower despite the quarter moon. The Perseids Meteor shower produces up to 60 meteors per hour! The best viewing time is after midnight.
August 13 - Venus
For the eastern skies, Venus will reach its highest point and be the brightest in the early morning sky.
The planet named after the Roman god of the sea will make its brief appearance this month.
September 11 - Neptune
Neptune will appear as a small blue dot except for the powerful telescopes and will be visible all night.
As people begin to get busy on Earth with end-of-the-year holidays, October kicks off three active months of astronomical events. A great time of the year to experience the cosmos with friends and family. Don’t forget to tag your images with #OPTeam for a chance to be featured on our Instagram page!
October 1 - Mercury
Just after sunset, Mercury will be at its highest point above the horizon in the western sky.
October 7 - Draconids Meteor Shower
The Draconids meteor shower is lighter than others in the year, producing about ten meteors per hour. With the Moon being in second quarter, traveling to darker sky sites will give you the best viewing early evening.
October 13 - Mars
Visible all night long, Mars will appear brighter than Sirius and Jupiter! The ideal observation is in the Northern Hemisphere. It won’t be this close to Earth until September 2035!
October 21, 22 - Orionids Meteor Shower
The Moon will be crescent phased, providing a darker night for excellent viewing, given clear skies. Radiating from the constellation Orion, the shower will be producing up to 20 meteors per shower.
A month of showers and a penumbral lunar eclipse, November is another great month for experiencing astronomical events!
November 4, 5 - Taurids Meteor Shower
This unique meteor shower has two separate streams! Travel to darker sky sites for better viewing because of the first quarter moon.
November 10 - Mercury
For the eastern morning sky, Mercury will reach its highest point above the horizon line. Wake up a little earlier and look up!
November 17, 18 - Leonids Meteor Shower
You won’t have to travel to darker sites with the Moon being in a crescent phase. The meteor shower is capable of producing up to 15 meteors per hour. The meteors will be radiating from the constellation of Leo but may appear anywhere in the sky.
November 30 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
The Moon will be passing through Earth’s shadow, which is also known as the penumbra. This time of year, it will be visible to North America, the Pacific Ocean, and northeastern Asia, including Japan.
New Year’s fireworks come a little early for the night sky with the biggest meteor shower of the year and a solar eclipse!
December 13, 14 - Geminids Meteor Shower
The biggest meteor shower of the year is the Geminid Meteor Shower, it produces up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour! With the Moon nearly in its new moon phase, enjoy dark skies without having to travel too far. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini but can appear anywhere in the sky.
December 14 - Solar Eclipse
A solar eclipse happens when the Moon blocks the Sun, and its outer atmosphere, known as the corona, shines from behind the Moon. The solar eclipse will be visible from Chile, southern Argentina, the southeastern Pacific Ocean, and the southern Atlantic Ocean.
December 21 - Jupiter and Saturn
Known as the great conjunction, Jupiter and Saturn will appear about seven arc minutes of each other! The last time they appeared so close was in 2000. Look to the west to see this rare celestial event.
December 21, 22 - Ursids Meteor Shower
The best time to view the Ursids meteor shower is after midnight when the Moon will have set. Drive away from city lights to darker sky sites for optimum viewing. The meteor shower will produce between 5 to 10 meteors per hour.