Stargazing and Sky-Watching Events You Shouldn’t Miss in 2020

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Every year, the skies around the world are filled with incredible phenomena that may not happen again for years—or sometimes even decades. Stargazing at a clear sky or gazing at an eventful meteor shower is a great way to spend the night, or put a cap on your latest adventure.

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Whether you’re visiting one of America’s greatest national parks like Yosemite, Joshua Tree, or the Grand Canyon; taking a long road trip; or just hanging outside with a good beer (at the right place at the right time), 2020 has plenty of times for you to grab a telescope and check out the night sky.

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Here’s a look at some of the top stargazing and space-watching events to mark on your calendar.

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Supermoon Sightings – March 9, April 8

Among the many full moons on the calendar in 2020—there will be 13—a couple of them will be “supermoons,” meaning the moon will be full at the same time its orbit is closest to Earth, according to NASA. March 9 will mark the first supermoon, followed by April 8. Check NASA’s calendar for a look at all the full moons in 2020.

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Lyrid Meteor Shower – April 21-22

The Lyrid meteor shower happens every year between April 16-April 26, but NASA reports the most active time to check out the meteor shower is April 21-22, between when the sun is fully set and ahead of dawn the following morning. Areas in the Northern Hemisphere will give you the best view of the shower, which at its most active has around 20 meteors per hour. Here’s a look at last year’s shower: 

Stephen Cheatley/Shutterstock

Lunar Eclipses – June 5, July 5, Nov. 30

Following the June 5 lunar eclipse, the next two will fall right around major American holidays: just after Independence Day, July 5, and soon after Thanksgiving in the early morning of Nov. 30, according to NASA’s calendar. The Nov. 30 eclipse will be seen best in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, while the July 5 eclipse will be best viewed in North and South America, southwest Europe, and Africa. The final lunar eclipse of the year will be best viewed in Asia, Australia, and both North and South America. 

Daniel Monk/Bav Media/Shutterstock

Solar Eclipses – June 21, Dec. 14

On July 21, the moon will block out the sun for the first of two solar eclipses in 2020. The first one is on Dec. 14 and is a “total” solar eclipse. The second falls in June and is an “annular” solar eclipse, which means the moon covers the center of the sun, leaving a “ring of fire” around the moon. The countries that’ll have the best visibility for the Dec. total eclipse include the South Pacific, Chile, and Argentina. The best visibility for the June eclipse will be in Africa, southeastern Europe, and Asia, as well as some islands in the Pacific Ocean. You can see a full map of where the eclipses will be visible on the NASA website. 

Satyabrata Tripathy/Hindustan Times/Shutterstock

Perseid Meteor Shower – August 12-13

The shower occurs from July 17–Aug. 24, but the peak time to view the meteors is during the night of Aug. 12 into the early hours of Aug. 13, with some of the best parts coming around 2 a.m. local time, according to NASA’s calendar. The shower is caused by the “debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle,” according to NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute.

Here’s a look from NASA of the shower in 2015:

Geoff Robinson Photography/Shutterstock

Geminid Meteor Shower – Dec. 13-14

The Geminid shower runs from Dec. 4-Dec. 17. The best time to watch the action is during the evening of Dec. 13 into the early morning of Dec. 14, according to NASA. At its peak, the shower can have around 120 meteors per hour and usually look as if they’re yellow in color.

Here are some instructions from NASA on how best to see the shower:

Here’s a look at the shower from 2018:

Thomas Heaton/Shutterstock

‘Great Conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn – Dec. 21

This event happens just once every 20 years, and, naturally, it’s happening in 2020. On the winter solstice this year, both Jupiter and Saturn will appear very close in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere after the sun sets, according to NASA. 

Here’s a look at a previous “great conjunction” of the planets:

Friedrich Saurer/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

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