Astronomical Calendar 2020
From the beginning of time humanity has shaped its understanding of intangible and tangible objects, such as Stonehenge, the Mayan pyramids or medieval churches, as a means of expressing that unbreakable link between earth and heaven.
Thanks to research and scientific and technical progress, today's human beings can easily gather information on the nature of the universe, the galaxies and the stars. At the time, when Galileo optimized the refracting telescope in 1609 by introducing multiple lenses, the first thing he did - as could not have been otherwise - was to aim it at the night sky. This instrument, which allowed us to literally look into space, has determined the physical appearance of observatories over the centuries.
Astronomical observatories like the Yerkes Observatory, located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, were built in 1897. It was the world's first astrophysical observatory built for scientific research, which is why it is considered the birthplace of modern astrophysics. Not only did it have a telescope, but it also made important scientific discoveries, such as the detection of carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere, the fifth moon of Uranus and the second moon of Neptune, to name a few.
Let's take a look at this astronomical calendar for 2020!
January 3-4: Quadrantine Rain.
On the 3rd or 4th of January, Europe and North America will observe a large number of quadrantine meteors. During the highest level of activity, more than 100 meteors per hour will be seen. This shower is believed to be produced by the debris left by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. The best view will be from a dark place after midnight. The meteors will radiate from the constellation of Bootes, but they can appear anywhere in the sky.
Penumbral lunar eclipse on January 10th. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will be slightly darker. It will be visible in most of Europe, Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Western Australia.
February 9: Supermoon.
Known as the snowy moon because the heaviest snowfalls used to fall during this time of year, it is the first of four supermoons in 2020. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look a little larger and brighter than usual.
February 10: Mercury at its greatest eastern elongation,18.2 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to see Mercury, as it will be at its highest point on the horizon in the night sky. Look for it after sunset.
March 9th: Supermoon.
This phase will take place at 17:48 UTC. This full moon was known to the early Native American tribes as the Worm-filled Moon because it was the time of year when earthworms appeared. It represents the second of the four supermoons of 2020.
March 20: March Equinox.
The sun will shine directly on the equator. It will be the first day of spring (spring equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of fall (fall equinox) in the southern hemisphere.
March 24: The planet Mercury reaches the greatest western elongation of 27.8 degrees from the Sun. Take this opportunity to contemplate it, as it will be at its highest point on the horizon in the morning sky.
March 24th: Venus at its greatest eastern elongation.
As with Mercury, only, in this case, you will have to look for it in the sky after sunset.
April 8th: Supermoon.
Some coastal tribes called this moon the Full Moon of Fish because it was the time when the shad swam upstream to spawn. It will be the third of four supermoons by 2020. As always, you will see it a little bigger and brighter than usual.
April 22nd and 23rd: Rain of Lyrids.
This rain will produce about 20 meteors per hour at its peak thanks to the remains of comet C / 1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. As there will be a new moon, this shower of stars will undoubtedly be one of the outstanding astronomical events of the year. Meteors will radiate from the constellation of Lyra.
May 6 and 7: Aquarids Stage Rain.
This is an above-average rain, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. However, most of the activity will take place in the southern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. The comet responsible for this meteor shower is Halley's comet. As our satellite will be in full phase, it will be a problem this year, as it will block all but the brightest meteors. The meteors will radiate from the constellation of Aquarius, but you can see them anywhere in the sky.
May 7th: Supermoon.
Last of the supermoons of the year. Known to the early Native American tribes as the full moon because it was the time of year when spring flowers bloomed in abundance, it will look a little bigger and brighter than usual thanks to its position close to the Earth.
June 4: Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation of 23.6 degrees from the Sun. The best time to contemplate it is after sunset.
June 5th: Penumbral lunar eclipse.
It will be visible over most of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Indian Ocean and Australia.
June 21: Annular solar eclipse.
The path of the eclipse will begin in central Africa and travel through Saudi Arabia, northern India, and southern China before ending in the Pacific Ocean. East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia will see it partially.
June 22: June Solstice.
This is the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the southern hemisphere.
July 5th: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse.
Where will it be visible? In most of North America, South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, the western Atlantic Ocean and the far west of Africa.
July 14: Jupiter in opposition.
The giant planet will be at its closest approach to the Earth and its face will be completely illuminated by the Sun. You'll be able to see it all night long. With a good pair of binoculars, you will be able to see the four largest moons of Jupiter, which appear as bright spots on both sides of the planet.
July 20th: Saturn in opposition.
It will be brighter than any other time of year, so it will be a fantastic occasion to see and photograph Saturn and its moons.
July 22: Mercury at its greatest western elongation, 20.1 degrees from the Sun.
July 28th and 29th: Rain from Delta Aquarids.
They can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at their peak. The remains left by comets Marsden and Kracht are responsible. The radiant of this rain is the constellation of Aquarius.
August 12-13: Rain of Perseids.
One of the public's favourites, they will produce up to 60 meteors per hour at their peak this year. Coming from the remains of the comet Swift-Tuttle, discovered in 1862, the Perseids show a large number of bright meteors. They are so bright and numerous that not even the moon will overshadow this spectacle in the sky. The meteors will radiate from the constellation of Perseus.
August 13: Venus at its greatest western elongation of 45.8 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to see Venus (look for it before sunrise).
August 19th: New Moon.
The best time of the month to observe faint objects like galaxies and star clusters is undoubtedly the new moon phase.
September 2nd: full moon.
The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be fully lit. This moon is also known as the full moon of corn because that is when this cereal plant is harvested.
September 11: Neptune in opposition.
Since it will be brighter than ever, it will be a fabulous occasion to gaze at the blue giant planet in the night sky. Since it is so far from Earth, we will only see it as a small blue dot on all but the most powerful telescopes, of course.
September 22nd: September Equinox.
It will be the first day of autumn (fall equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of spring (spring equinox) in the southern hemisphere.
October 7th: Draconian rain.
From the remains left by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, this is a minor star shower that produces only about 10 meteors per hour. The phase of the moon will ensure our dark skies, so there will be no problem for its visualization.
October 13: Mars in opposition.
The red planet will be on its closest approach to Earth. You will be able to see it all night long and if you have a medium-sized telescope, you will even be able to observe some of the dark details on the reddish surface of the planet.
October 21 and 22: Orionid rain.
It is produced by the remains left by Halley's comet and up to 20 meteors per hour, an average rain, are expected. The meteors will radiate from the constellation of Orion.
October 31: Blue moon, since it will be the second full moon in the same month. This is not usual in the calendar.
October 31: Uranus in opposition.
The blue-green planet will be closer to Earth and its face will be completely lit by the Sun. Because of its enormous distance from our planet, it will appear as a tiny blue-green dot on all but the most professional telescopes.
November 4 -5: Taurid rain.
This is a long-lasting minor meteor shower that produces only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is quite particular as it is composed of two separate streams: the first one, from the remains of asteroid 2004 TG10 and the second one from the debris left by comet 2P Encke. The moon will block all but the brightest meteors this year. The radiant is in the constellation of Taurus.
November 17th and 18th: Leonidas Rain.
The Leonids produce up to 15 meteors per hour at their peak. It has a cyclonic peak every 33 years and the last one took place in 2001, so we will have to wait until 2034 for the big show. The Leonids are produced by the remains of the Tempel-Tuttle comet, discovered in 1865. There will be dark skies, so take the opportunity to see this rain with the naked eye from anywhere in the sky.
November 30th: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse The Moon will pass through the partial shadow of the Earth, or penumbra.
The Moon will be slightly darker and visible in most of North America, the Pacific Ocean, and northeast Asia, including Japan.
December 13-14: Gemini Rain.
For many, it is the best. Up to 120 multicoloured meteors per hour can be produced at its peak. The remains of an asteroid known as 3200 Phaeton, which was discovered in 1982, is what provides us with this particular meteor shower. We won't have to worry about the moon, as we'll have dark skies. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation of Gemini.
December 14th: Total solar eclipse.
The luckiest will be the inhabitants of the southern areas of Chile and southern Argentina. Partially it will be seen in most of southern South America, the southeast Pacific Ocean and the south of the Atlantic Ocean.
December 21st: December Solstice.
The Earth's South Pole will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky. It is the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the southern hemisphere.
December 21: rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.
This rare conjunction is called in astronomy "great conjunction". Don't miss this opportunity, as the last great conjunction occurred in the year 2000. They will be so close to each other that they will look like a double planet. Moreover, it will be the "closest" conjunction of these two worlds since 1623; they will be separated by only one-fifth of the apparent diameter of the full moon.
December 21 and 22: Rain of Ursides.
It is a small meteor shower that produces between 5 and 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by the grains of dust left by Comet Tuttle. The best view will be just after midnight from a dark place away from the city lights. The meteors will depart from the Ursa Minor constellation.