2020 Stargazing Guide and Astronomical Calendar

There are few things more magnificent than a leisurely hike in the desert or forest and afterward enjoying s’mores by the fire, followed by an evening of stargazing and astronomy under a dark sky. Spotting a shooting star during a meteor shower is pure magic, as are planet sightings, eclipses, and supermoons. If you are in search of truly awesome astronomical phenomena that will take your breath away, use this calendar and our dark skies map to plan your 2020 outdoor escapes.

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

January

☄️ Fri-Sat, Jan 3-4 | Quadrantids Meteor Shower: This is an above average meteor shower that produces up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak. This year, the shower peaks on the night of the 3rd and the morning of the 4th. The best viewing will be after midnight, so camp under the dark skies and be patient.

🌕 Fri, Jan 10 | 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, Jan 24 | 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.

February

🌕 Sun, Feb 9 | 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.

👽 Tue, Feb 18 | Mars Behind the Moon: The moon will glide in front of Mars in the early hours of the morning prior to sunrise, and telescope and binocular users in Central America, Cuba, Haiti, the western half of North America, and extreme northern South America will get a glimpse of the reddish, starlike planet.

👽 Thu, Feb 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.

🌑 Sun, Feb 23 | 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.

March

🌕 Mon, Mar 9 | 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. Supermoons occur when a full moon is at its closest distance to the Earth. The moon may look brighter and larger than usual.

🌑 Tue, Mar 24 | 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, Mar 24 | 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.

👽 Tue, Mar 24 | Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation: This is one of the best times to view Venus. Look for a bright planet above the eastern horizon line during the evening.

April

April is International Astronomy month!

🌕 Wed, Apr 8 | 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. Supermoons occur when a full moon is at its closest distance to the Earth. The moon may look brighter and larger than usual.

☄️ Wed-Thu, 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.

🌑 Thu, Apr 23 | 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.

May

☄️ Wed-Thu, May 6-7 | 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.

🌕 Thu, May 7 | 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. Supermoons occur when a full moon is at its closest distance to the Earth. The moon may look brighter and larger than usual.

🌑 Fri, May 22 | 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.

June

👽 Thu, Jun 4 | 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.

🌕 Fri, Jun 5 | 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, Jun 5 | 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 a small telescope, you should be able to see some of Jupiter’s moons.

🌑 Sun, June 21 | 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.

🌞 Sat, June 20 | 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.

July

🌕 Sun, July 5 | 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.

👽 Tue, July 14 | 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 a small telescope, you should be able to see some of Jupiter’s moons.

🌑 Mon, July 20 | 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, July 20 | 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.

👽 Wed, July 22 | 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.

☄️ Tue-Wed, 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.

August

🌕 Mon, Aug 3 | 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.

☄️ Wed-Thu, 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. Peaking shortly after a new moon, the conditions are prime for stargazing during the Perseid’ peak this year. Find camps under dark skies.

👽 Thu, Aug 13 | Venus at Greatest Western Elongation: This is the best time to see Venus. Look for a bright planet in the western sky after sunset.

🌑 Wed, Aug 19 | 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.

September

🌕 Wed, Sep 2 | 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, Sept 11 | 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.

🌑 Thu, Sep 17 | 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.

October

🌕 Thu, Oct 1 | 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.

👽 Thu, Oct 1 | 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.

☄️ Wed, Oct 7 | 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.

👽 Tue, Oct 13 | Mars at Opposition: The best night to view Mars, 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 may be able to see Mars’ two moons.

🌑 Fri, Oct 16 | 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-Thu, 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.

🌕 Sat, Oct 31 | 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.

👽 Sat, Oct 31 | 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.

November

☄️ Wed-Thu, Nov 4-5 | 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 10 | 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.

🌑 Sun, Nov 15 | 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-Wed, 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.

🌕 Tue, Nov 30 | 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.

December

☄️ Sun-Mon, 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.

🌑 Mon, Dec 14 | 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, Dec 14 | Total Solar Eclipse in Patagonia: Total solar eclipses occur when the New Moon comes between the sun and earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow, the umbra, on Earth. When the eclipse reaches totality it means, for a brief moment, that you (the observer) are completely in line with the moon and the sun. This magnificent spectacle will be visible from Northern Patagonia on Dec 14th.

❄️ Mon, Dec 21 | 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.

👽 Mon, Dec 21 | Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn: A conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be visible on Dec 21. If you have a decent pair of binoculars or a small telescope, you should be able to see some of Jupiter’s moons as well as Saturn’s famous rings.

☄️ Mon-Tue, 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.

Book a campsite now so you can enjoy the best nights for stargazing and astronomy

Plan ahead and find and book an outdoor stay experience on Hipcamp that enables you to view celestial events. #FindYourselfOutside

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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