2019 Stargazing Guide and Astronomical Calendar

Fitting somewhere between “no cell service” and “s’mores,” stargazing is arguably one of the best parts of any camping trip. Beyond the magic of spotting a shooting star during a meteor shower, supermoons, planet sightings and eclipses are equally impressive astronomical phenomena that never cease to awe-inspire, no matter how many turns around the sun we’ve taken. If space is your type of thing, use this calendar and our dark skies map to plan your escapes from light pollution all year long.

Emoji Key

🌑: New Moon | 🌕: Full Moon | ☄️: Meteor Shower | 👽: Planet sighting

January

☄️ Th-Fri, Jan 3-4 | Quadrantids Meteor Shower: This is a above average meteor shower that produces up to 40 meteors per hour. This year, the nearly full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors, so camp under the dark skies and be patient.

🌑 Sun, Jan 6 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

👽 Sun, Jan 6 | Venus at Greatest Western Elongation: This is the best time to see Venus. Look for a bright planet in the western sky after sunset.

🌑 Sun-Mon, Jan 20 & 21 | Total Lunar Eclipse: A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America, South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, western Atlantic Ocean, extreme western Europe, and extreme western Africa.

🌕 Mon, Jan 21 | Full Moon, Supermoon: This is the first of two supermoons in the year. Supermoons occur when a full moon is at its closest distance to the Earth. The moon may look brighter and larger than usual.

Songdog West Campsites, CA by Madison Kotack

February

🌑 Mon, Feb 4 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

🌕 Tue, Feb 19 | Full Moon, Supermoon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

This is also the second of three supermoons for 2019. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

👽 Wed, Feb 27 | Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation: This is one of the best times to view Mercury. Look for a planet above the western horizon line during the evening.

Serenity Glamping, UT by Taylor H.

March

🌑 Wed, Mar 6 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

🌞Wed, Mar 20 | March Equinox: This is the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the first day of Spring. The Sun shines directly on the equator, creating equal amounts of day and night throughout the whole world.

🌕 Th, Mar 21 | Full Moon, Supermoon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

This is also the last supermoon for 2019. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

Pantilokpom Creek Side Camping, CA by Erinn Hale

April

April is International Astronomy month!

🌑 Fri, Apr 5 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

👽 Th, April 11 | Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation: This is the best time to view Mercury. Look for a planet above the eastern horizon line during the evening.

🌕 Fri, April 19 | Full Moon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

☄️ Mon-Tue, Apr 22-23 | Lyrids Meteor Shower: Producing 20 meteors per hour, the Lyrids Meteor Shower is an average meteor shower that is unique for meteors that leave long dust trails that can last several seconds. Find camps under dark skies.

Beautiful Views, NY by Calum M.

May

🌑 Sat, May 4 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

☄️ Mon, May 6 | Eta Aquarids: Producing 30 meteors per hour in the Northern Hemisphere, this is an average meteor shower that is produced by dust particles from Halley’s comet.

🌕 Sat, May 18 | Full Moon, Blue Moon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. Since this is the third of four full moons in this season, it is known as a blue moon. This rare calendar event only happens once every few years, giving rise to the term, “once in a blue moon.” There are normally only three full moons in each season of the year. But since full moons occur every 29.53 days, occasionally a season will contain 4 full moons. The extra full moon of the season is known as a blue moon. Blue moons occur on average once every 2.7 years.

Dos Rios Camping, TX by Ashlee Newman

June

🌑 Mon, June 3 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

👽 Mon, June 10 | Jupiter at Opposition: The best night to view Jupiter, as it will be at its closest to Earth and fully illuminated by the Sun. If you have a decent pair of binoculars or small telescope, you should be able to see some of Jupiter’s moons.

🌕 Mon, June 17 | Full Moon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

🌞 Fri, June 21 | June Solstice: This is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, when the North Pole is tilted towards the sun. This is the longest day of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of summer.

👽 Sun, June 23 | Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation: This is one of the best times to view Mercury. Look for a planet above the western horizon line during the evening.

The Crystal Mesa, TX by Rachel V.

July

🌑 Tue, July 2 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

👽 Tue, July 9 | Saturn at Opposition: The best night to view Saturn, as it will be at its closest to Earth and fully illuminated by the Sun. With a medium-size telescope, you should be able to see Saturn’s rings and a few of its moons.

🌕 Tue, July 16 | Full Moon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

☄️ Sun-Mon, July 28-29 | Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower: Producing 20 meteors per hour, the Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower is an average meteor shower. This year, the nearly full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors, so camp under to dark skies and be patient.

Nehalem Tipi Retreat, OR by Juliana Linder

August

🌑 Th, Aug 1 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

👽 Fri, August 9 | Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation: This is the best time to view Mercury. Look for a planet above the eastern horizon line during the evening.

☄️ Mon-Tue, Aug 12-13 | Perseid Meteor Shower: Producing up to 60 unusually bright meteors per hour, the Perseid Meteor Shower is one of the best meteor showers of the year (after the Geminid in December). Peaking shortly after a new moon, the conditions are prime for stargazing during the Perseid’ peak this year. Find camps under dark skies.

🌕 Th, Aug 15 | Full Moon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

🌑 Fri, Aug 30 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 12:30 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Sturgeon Moon because the large sturgeon fish of the Great Lakes and other major lakes were more easily caught at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.

Jug Handle Creek Farm, CA by Ezequiel Gonzalez

September

👽 Mon, Sept 9 | Neptune at Opposition: The blue giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Neptune. Due to its extreme distance from Earth, it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.

🌕 Sat, Sept 14 | Full Moon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

🌞 Mon, Sept 23 | September Equinox: This is the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the first day of Fall. The Sun shines directly on the equator, creating equal amounts of day and night throughout the whole world.

🌑 Sat, Sept 28 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

Long View Lodge, CO by Brendan Simpson

October

☄️ Tue, Oct 8 | Draconids Meteor Shower: This is only a minor meteor shower, but it is unique because the best viewing occurs early in the evening. Find camps under dark skies.

🌕 Sun, October 13 | Full Moon: The moon will be fully illuminated by the sun—perfect for watching the moon rise, but not great for stargazing.

👽 Sun, Oct 20 | Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation: This is one of the best times to view Mercury. Look for a planet above the eastern horizon line during the evening.

☄️ Mon-Tue, Oct 21-22 | Orionids Meteor Shower: This is another meteor shower produced by dust grains left behind by Halley’s comet. Producing up to 20 meteors per hour, this is an average shower that tends to have relatively bright meteors. The meteors will radiate from the Orion constellation. If you’ve seen Men in Black, you’ll be familiar with this one! Find camps under dark skies.

👽 Sun, Oct 27 | Uranus at Opposition: The best night to view Uranus, as it will be at its closest to Earth and fully illuminated by the Sun. You will be able to see the blue-green all night long.

🌑 Mon, Oct 28 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

S Whidbey Woods & Pasture, WA by Juliana Linder

November

☄️ Tue-Wed, Nov 5-6 | Taurids Meteor Shower: Producing up to 10 meteors per hour, this is only a minor meteor shower. Viewing conditions are perfect this year as the crescent moon will set early in the evening, leaving dark skies for viewing. Find camps under dark skies.

🌕 Tue, Nov 12 | Full Moon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

☄️ Sun-Mon, Nov 17-18 | Leonid Meteor Shower: Producing 15 meteors per hour, this is an average meteor shower that is unique because it has cyclonic peak every 33 years where you can see hundreds of meteors per hour. The next time this will happen is in 2034. Find camps under dark skies.

👽 Sun, Nov 24 | Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter: A conjunction of Venus and Jupiter will be visible on November 24. The two bright planets will be visible within 1.4 degrees of each other in the evening sky. Look for this impressive sight in the western sky just after sunset.

🌑 Tue, Nov 26 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

👽 Th, Nov 28 | Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation: This is the best time to view Mercury. Look for a planet above the eastern horizon line during the evening.

Zion National Park, UT by Nic Castellanos

December

🌕 Th, Dec 12 | Full Moon: Full Moons occur when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. These nights are not great for stargazing as the sky won’t get that dark, but perfect for watching moonrises, for taking little ones on their first camping trips, and for howling at the moon.

☄️ Fri-Sat, Dec 13-14 | Geminids Meteor Shower: Producing up to 120 meteors per hour at its peak, this is the best meteor shower to see all year. The first quarter moon will set early this night, leaving the skies dark for optimal viewing. Find camps under dark skies.

☄️ Sat-Sun, Dec 21-22 | Ursids Meteor Shower: Producing 5-10 meteors per hour, the Ursids Meteor Shower is a minor meteor shower. This year, the full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors, so camp under to dark skies and be patient.

❄️ Sun, Dec 22 | December Solstice: This is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, when the North Pole is tilted away from the the sun. This is the shortest day of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere. The bright side? Days only get longer from here on out until the June.

🌑 Th, Dec 26 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

🌞🌑 Th, Dec 26 | Annual Solar Eclipse: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the Sun and the Moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating a “moonless night.” These are the best nights for stargazing, seeing the milky way, and for camping trips! Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

Hipcamp Staff

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

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