While we leave behind a 2019 full of astronomical events, we face the new year that promises to be no less intense. Given the beautiful conjunctions (the so-called planetary and astral “kisses”), the inevitable meteor showers, and penumbral lunar eclipses, the observing evenings will be just as rich and exciting.
Two of the main astronomical phenomena of the sky in January 2020. With maximum activity recorded on the morning of January 4, the Quadrantids are the meteor shower that opens the year.
On the 10th of the month there will be a partial penumbral eclipse of the Moon. Event that will be difficult to use, given the slight perceptibility of the terrestrial penumbra on the lunar surface.
On January 18 it will be the turn of Mars that will duel in the sky with the red star Antares. On January 20 the red planet will be in conjunction with the Moon, while on the 28th there will be the beautiful conjunction between the Moon and Venus.
On February 18 the Moon is in conjunction with Mars. The following days will instead be in conjunction with Jupiter (19) and with Saturn (20 February). Our natural satellite will again be in conjunction with the planet Venus on the 27th of the month.
At the turn of the spring equinox which will fall at 05:50 on March 20, there will be interesting conjunctions to embellish the observing evenings. Among these, on March 18 there will be the conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Mars. March 19 will be the turn of Mars and Saturn, which will duet in the sky offering us another beautiful planetary conjunction. On 20 and 21 there will be other planetary conjunction, between Mars and Jupiter and one between the Moon and Mercury. The conjunction between Mars and Saturn on the 31st closes the month that opens the spring season.
With Venus still clearly visible, on April 3 we will witness a suggestive positioning of the planet of Love among the Pleiades. In perspective from Earth Venus will therefore appear very close to the stars of the best known open cluster. Here are the conjunctions of the month. April 15: Moon-Jupiter and Moon-Saturn. April 16: Moon-Mars. We will then be able to witness the spring meteor shower: the Lyrids. The peak is expected at 08:07 on April 22. The Moon and Venus will be in conjunction on the 26th of the month.
The month of May opens, on the 4th, with the meteor shower known as Eta Aquaridi. Interesting conjunctions follow this event, such as that between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn on 12 and 18 between Jupiter and Saturn. They follow, with the arrival of the New Moon on the 22nd, the conjunction between Mercury and Venus, and the Moon, Venus and Mercury on May 24th.
In June 2020 the phenomenon of the penumbral lunar eclipse will be repeated. The last occurred on January 10, 2020. A number of beautiful conjunctions preceded the summer solstice, including that of June 19 between the Moon and Venus. The annular eclipse of the Sun that will take place on June 21 will affect Africa, South East Europe and Asia. It will begin at 06:41 UTC. The last annular eclipse of the Sun occurred in Indonesia and the Pacific on December 26, 2019, giving us spectacular images.
On July 5 another penumbral lunar eclipse will affect our natural satellite. On that same date the Moon will be in conjunction with Jupiter, while on July 6th it will be in conjunction with Saturn. Other interesting conjunctions will concern Venus and the star Aldebaran on the 11th, the Moon and Mars on the 11th.
There will be two oppositions this month: that of Jupiter on July 14, and that of Saturn on 20. The Delta Aquarids will show in particular on July 27, when their climax is expected. They are the summer meteor shower that precedes the most famous Perseid swarm in August.
In August, don’t miss the Perseids, whose peak is scheduled for 12, with a ZHR of 90. The most interesting conjunctions of the month: August 2 – Moon-Jupiter and Moon-Saturn. August 9: Moon and Mars; August 15: Moon-Venus. On the 29 Moon-Jupiter and Moon-Saturn.
The opposition of the planet Neptune is scheduled for 11 September. On the 14th we will be able to witness the conjunction between the Moon and Venus, while on the 22nd before the autumn equinox Mercury will duet in the sky with the star Spica.
On October 14 the planet Mars will be in opposition, and in addition to beautiful conjunctions such as those between the Moon and Venus on the 14th, between the Moon and Jupiter on the 22nd, on the 21st there will be the peak of the Orionids, the autumn meteor shower. On the 31st of the month the planet Uranus will be in opposition.
The first show of the month is definitely the South Taurids, a swarm of meteors with a peak on November 5th. On the 12th it will be the turn of the swarm of the Northern Taurids, which will illuminate the skies for the second part of the month. Close to these, the shooting stars known as Leonids will have their maximum activity on 17. On November 30 the Moon will be affected by the fourth penumbral eclipse of the year.
The astronomical event of the month is surely the total eclipse of the Sun, which will affect areas of the Earth such as Argentina and Antarctica on December 14, 2020. The next total Sun eclipse will occur on December 4, 2021 and will be visible from Antarctica and South Africa .
Other astronomical events of the month of December are the Geminids, meteor showers with a peak on the 14th, and the Ursids, with a peak on the 22nd of the month.
We just have to wish you a year full of observations and clear skies, among the astronomical events of 2020! 🙂