If you need a little inspiration in this new year, there’s no better place to look than the night sky. This year promises some breathtaking light shows, solar eclipses, and Supermoons, in addition to perfect viewing conditions for your favorite annual showers.
In order to kick off 2020, Inverse has put together the most exciting celestial events taking place above us in the vast cosmos.
4. A meteor shower for the ages
The Quadrantid meteor shower kicks off each new year by brightening up the sky in the Northern hemisphere. The Quadrantid shower is thought to come from an ancient asteroid known as Asteroid 2003 EH1, which orbits the Sun roughly every five and a half years.
Although it has a narrow peak window, the shower peaks at 60-100 meteors an hour and is known for being a fireball meteor shower which tend to be brighter. This year, the shower will hit its peak during the early hours of January 4, at around 5 a.m. Eastern.
There are other meteor showers to look out for this year, including the Lydris shower taking place on April 22 which lights up with around 20 meteors an hour during its peak. On May 6, the Eta Aquarids meteor shower will reach up to 30 meteors an hour and Persidest meteor shower will take place on August 12 with around 60 meteors an hour during its peak.
3. New year, new moon
The start of the new year also brings with it a new moon. On January 24, the moon will embark on a new lunar phase. On this day, the moon will be on the same side of the Earth as the Sun with its dark side facing our planet, and will therefore be almost invisible to us.
The next day, January 25, a slim crescent of the moon will slowly start to show in our sky and get bigger each day.
On April 8, the moon will reach its Supermoon peak where it is at its closest distance to Earth, and will appear at its largest and brightest in the year 2020.
2. A peak at the planets
If you want to take a closer look at our planetary neighbors, then you need to know the exact day when Earth gets in between the Sun and one of the planets in its outer orbit whereby the planet appears at its brightest from Earth.
On June 10, Jupiter will be at its closest approach to Earth, and will therefore be fully illuminated by the light of our common host star. The planet will be at its most visible point of the year throughout the night, and even its moons can be seen through a small telescope from Earth.
A month later, Saturn will be at opposition on July 9. This is the best time to capture the planet and its surrounding rings.
Later in the year, the two planets will appear at their closest to each other. On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will line up with each other during their orbit around the Sun as seen from Earth, which means you can capture both of them in the night sky at once.
This is quite a rare sight, as it only takes place every 20 years or so when the two planets appear almost as one bright celestial being.
1. Eclipse of the year
Throughout the year, you will have something to look forward to as a total solar eclipse is scheduled to take place on December 14, 2020.
During a total solar eclipse, the moon is positioned between the Earth and the Sun, which blocks the light of the Sun from our view save for a slender ring of light around the lunar body. However, this solar eclipse will only be visible from Chile and Argentina, while Brazil and Uruguay will get a partial eclipse.
So, it might not be a bad idea to start planning your winter holiday break starting today in anticipation of this grand sight from the Chilean desert.