Astronomical Events December 2020
We are closing out 2020 with some rare astronomy events and early cosmic fireworks! You can get a head start and download your free calendars here or read below for the full details.
Life may have looked different here on Earth, but the night sky remained as exciting as ever! We have been thrilled to welcome many beginners to the hobby and those revisiting their love for the stars. Whether you are a beginner or a loyal customer, we want to thank you for your support as we head into the new year!
As always, we look forward to your success. Clear skies!
Moon Phases, Planets, and More!
December 13, 14 - Geminids Meteor Shower
The Geminids Meteor Shower is the king of the meteor showers. Many astronomers look forward to this shower every year! At its peak, the Geminids Meteor Shower produces up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour! The Geminids runs annually from December 7 to 17 and peaks on the night of the 13th into the morning of the 14th. This year the show could even last into the morning of the 15th thanks to the New Moon, ensuring dark skies. Find a dark location if possible, and get ready to see a spectacular show after midnight.
December 14 - New Moon
This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters! Plan ahead for optimal imaging or observing.
December 14 - Total Solar Eclipse
A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon completely blocks the Sun and reveals the Sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona. This year the total solar eclipse will be visible in parts of southern Chile and southern Argentina. A partial eclipse will be visible in most parts of southern South America, the southeastern Pacific Ocean, and the southern Atlantic Ocean.
December 21 - December Solstice
The Northern Hemisphere welcomes the winter season and the Southern Hemisphere welcomes the first day of summer!
December 21 - Rare Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
This rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is known as a great conjunction. The last great conjunction occurred in 2000. The two bright planets will be so close that they will appear to make a bright double planet! Look to the west just after sunset for this rare planetary pair.
December 21, 22 - Ursids Meteor Shower
The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. The shower runs annually from December 17-25 and peaks this year on the the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd. The best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights.
December 30 - Full Moon
This Moon was known by some early Native American tribes as the Cold Moon because this is the time of year when the cold winter air settles in and the nights become long and dark. This moon has also been known as the Long Nights Moon and the Moon Before Yule.
Northern Hemisphere Deep Sky Objects and Constellations
- Messier 34
- Messier 76 : Little Dumbbell Nebula
- Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884)
- California Nebula (NGC 1499)
- Triangulum Galaxy (Messier 33)
- NGC 604
- NGC 588
- NGC 592
- NGC 595
- NGC 634
- NGC 784
- NGC 925
- NGC 672 and IC 1727
- NGC 772
- Interacting pair NGC 935 and IC 1801
- Spiral galaxy NGC 877
- Pair NGC 680 and NGC 678
- Spiral galaxy NGC 694
Southern Hemisphere Deep Sky Objects and Constellations
- Cleopatra’s Eye Nebula (NGC 1535)
- Witch Head Nebula (IC 2118)
- Eridanus Cloud (Eridanus Group), a group of about 200 galaxies
- Elliptical galaxy NGC 1407
- Eridanus Cluster of galaxies
- Radio galaxy Fornax A (NGC 1316)
- Elliptical galaxy NGC 1399
- Great Barred Spiral Galaxy (NGC 1365)
- Irregular galaxy NGC 1427A
- Elliptical galaxy NGC 1404
- Fornax Dwarf, a dwarf galaxy
- Robin’s Egg Nebula (NGC 1360)
- NGC 1097
- Horologium Supercluster
- Globular cluster NGC 126
- Spiral galaxy NGC 1512
Too many clouds? Come hang out with the OPT team on ClearSkiesNetworkon Twitch where we stream daily and have hosts from all over the world remote control OPT observatories, telescope talk, and more! Or check out our What to Do When it’s Cloudy to find some astro inspiration on those cloudy nights.
What December astronomy event are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments below!