I could stare at the stars and the ocean for hours. When looking upon the expanse of the sky, it seems to go on forever and make me and my problems feel so small (in a good way).
A few years ago we started to get into astrophotography, but after moving to NYC, we’ve been shooting city lights over the night sky. While living in the city that never sleeps, we met some incredible astrophotographers who have inspired us to get back at it. We have a feeling our next city will have us spending more time outside.
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Last Updated: July 17, 2020
15 Stargazing Events You Won't Want to Miss in 2020
We’ve done some night photography on a whim, but in hindsight realized it takes a some astronomy knowledge to capture great star photos. P.S. I also did some sports photography back in college, which was a disaster, because I didn’t understand the sport and could never follow the ball. I am hoping in the coming year with a better understanding of the stars, we can take some rad photos of them.
To helps us plan for the year, we’ve put together a calendar of stargazing events, new moons, full moons, and more. That way, we can plan each trip accordingly to get the best results. Here are the stargazing events that you should mark on your calendars!
Also, it helps to ask to go with some already knowledgeable folks or attend a star party.
1. Quadrantids Meteor Shower
January 3-4, 2020
This shower runs annually from January 1-5, but peaks on the night of the 3rd with up to 40 meteors per hour. The best viewing will be after midnight. The moon will be a thin crescent so it shouldn’t interfere with viewing. This shower is believed to be dust grains left by the extinct comet 2003 EH1.
2. Moon Passes in Front of Mars
Feb 18, 2020
This rare event where the moon passes between the Earth and Mars is known as occultation and looks similar to an eclipse.
3. Lyrids Meteor Shower
April 22-23, 2020
The Lyrids are produced by dust particles left by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, and there are roughly 20 meteors per hour during its peak. It runs from April 16-25 with the peak the night of the 22nds and morning of the 23rd.
4. Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower
May 6-7, 2020
The most active portion of this shower will be seen in the Southern Hemisphere with up to 60 meteors per hour. In the Northern Hemisphere, there will be up to 40 meteors per hour. It runs annually from April 19 to May 28 but peaks the night of May 6. The thin crescent moon will set early making for a good showing after midnight. This shower is made of dust particles left by the Halley comet.
5. Annular Solar Eclipse
June 21, 2020
An annular solar eclipse is when the moon is too far away from the Earth to completely cover the Sun resulting in a ring of light around the Moon. If you’re in central Africa, Saudi Arabia, northern India, or southern China, keep your eye out for it.
6. Neowise Comet
July 13 – 19, 2020
If you live in the Northern hemisphere you can see comet Neowise. Just look northwest just after sunset, and it can be visible to the human eye. It still helps to have binoculars or a telescope though, and if you’re photographing it, bring your long lens. Each night, it will rise higher above the horizon. Catch it now, since it won’t be seen for another 6800 years.
7. Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower
July 28-29, 2020
Debris from the Marsden and Kracht comets create this annual shower that runs from July 12 to August 23. During its peak the night of July 28th, you can see up to 20 meteors per hour. The moon will be a waning crescent so the skies should be dark enough for a good view.
8. Perseids Meteor Shower
August 12-13, 2020
This is one of the best meteor showers producing up to 60 bright meteors per hour from the Swift-Tuttle comet. It runs from July 17 to August 24 with its peak the night of August 12. Unfortunately the moon will be nearly full making it hard to see any of the fainter meteors, but since there should be some bright ones, you may still catch some in the night sky.
9. Draconids Meteor Shower
October 7, 2020
This is a smaller meteor shower but still has about 10 meteors per hour left by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner. It’s best viewed in the early evening instead of the early morning and runs from Oct 6-10 with the peak on the 7th.
10. Orionids Meteor Shower
October 21-22, 2020
Running from October 2 to November 7, the dust grains left by comet Halley can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak on the night of October 21. The second quarter moon will block some of the faint meteors, but these tend to be brighter so you should still be able to see some in the sky.
11. Taurids Meteor Shower
November 5-6, 2020
This is a smaller shower made up of dust grains left by Asteroid 2004 TG10 and Comet 2P Encke. It runs from September 7 to December 10 but the peak happens the night of November 5th. The first quarter moon sets shortly after midnight giving you plenty of dark skies.
12. Leonids Meteor Shower
November 17-18, 2020
This annual shower runs from November 6-30 with 15 meteors per hour at its peak. The Tempel-Tuttle comet dust grains peak the night of November 17th, but the second quarter moon will block out most of the fainter meteors. Every 33ish years, this shower will produce hundreds of meteors per hour. The last time this happened was in 2001.
13. Geminids Meteor Shower
December 13-14, 2020
This is one of the best meteor showers with up to 120 multicolored meteors at its peak. The debris left from asteroid 3200 Phaethon runs from December 7-17 but peaks the night of December 13th. Unfortunately there will be almost a full moon which will block out a lot of the meteors but you may still catch some of the brighter ones.
14. Total Solar Eclipse
December 14, 2020
We got a chance to catch 2018’s total solar eclipse and it was really amazing to witness. This year, the total solar eclipse can’t be seen from North America, but if you’re in Chile or southern Argentina, then make time to see it!
15. Ursids Meteor Shower
December 21-22, 2020
If you haven’t gotten enough meteor showers this year, catch the final shower the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd. The Ursids is a smaller shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour left by the comet Tuttle.
2020 New Moon Dates
As a photographer, we’re always planning astrophotography around new moon because the sky is darkest and we can shoot photos of galaxies, star clusters, and the milky way. For that reason, it makes it great for stargazing too.
- January 24, 2020 21:44 UTC
- February 23, 2020 15:33 UTC
- March 24, 2020 09:29 UTC
- April 23, 2020 02:27 UTC
- May 22, 2020 17:39 UTC
- June 21, 2020 06:42 UTC
- July 20, 2020 17:33 UTC
- August 19, 2020 02:42 UTC
- September 17, 2020 11:00 UTC
- October 16, 2020 19:32 UTC
- November 15, 2020 05:08 UTC
- December 14, 2020 16:18 UTC
2019 Full Moon Dates
If you’re looking for bright nights or to shoot the moon, go out on full moon days. This year, there are three supermoons, which means the moon is closest to Earth can may look slightly larger and brighter.
- January 10, 2020
- February 9, 2020 Supermoon
- March 9, 2020 Supermoon
- April 8, 2020 Supermoon
- May 7, 2020 Supermoon
- June 5, 2020
- July 5, 2020
- August 3, 2020
- September 2, 2020
- October 1, 2020
- October 31, 2020 Blue Moon
- November 30, 2020
- December 30, 2020
Note: A blue moon is the third of four full moons in a season. It’s a rare calendar event and only happens once every few years. Blue moons usually happen only once every 2.7 years. There is also another definition that came about from confusion: a blue moon can also be the second full moon in any given month.
2020 Eclipse Dates
- January 10, 2020 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
(Europe, Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, and West Australia)
- June 5, 2020 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
(Europe, Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Australia)
- June 21, 2020 – Annular Solar Eclipse
(Central Africa, Suadi Arabia, northern India, and southern China. Partial in eastern Africa, the Middle East, and southern Asia)
- July 5, 2020 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
(North America, South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, the western Atlantic Ocean, and extreme western Africa)
- November 30, 2020 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
(North America, the Pacific Ocean, and northeastern Asia)
- December 14, 2020 – Total Solar Eclipse
(Chile and southern Argentina. Partial in South America, the southeastern Pacific Ocean, and southern Atlantic Ocean)
2020 Opposition Dates
Planets in opposition are the best time to see them because they are closest to Earth.
- July 14, 2020 – Jupiter
- July 20, 2020 – Saturn
- September 11 – Neptune
- October 13 – Mars
- October 31 – Uranus
2020 Equinox & Solstice Dates
- March 20, 2020 March Equinox (First Day of Spring)
- June 22, 2020 June Solstice (First Day of Summer)
- September 22, 2020 September Equinox (First Day of Fall)
- December 21, 2020 December Solstice (First Day of Winter)
What stargazing events have you seen? When is the last time you stargazed?