Every new year sees a slew of celestial events that range from the more common meteor shower to the rare rising of a blue moon on Halloween night. If you're still reeling from images of the pink supermoon that occured last April 7, open your calendars and get ready to mark these dates because we'll have more heavenly shows to anticipate this 2020.
Below, we round up some of the major astronomical phenomena still left in the year.
Lyrid Meteor Shower (April 22/23)
The Lyrid meteor shower is active each year and has been observed on earth for the past two millenia. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the phenomenon usually generates a dozen meteors per hour "under optimal conditions." For 2020, the Lyrids are projected to peak on the night of April 22 into the early morning of April 23, so don't forget to observe the night sky during this time for a glimpse of a few shooting stars zooming past.
Eta Aquarid Meteors (May 5/6)
Meanwhile, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, which is usually active between the period of April 19 to May 28, is expected to peak on May 5 to May 6. According to EarthSky.org, this particular set favors the Southern Hemisphere and can be best observed when the new moon makes way for clear black skies starting May 4.
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse (June 6)
As projected by timeanddate.com this year's Penumbral lunar eclipse is expected to last for three hours and 18 minutes beginning in the wee morning hours of June 6, between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. This type of eclipse is often mistaken for a normal full moon since it's more subtle and difficult to observe as opposed to a total lunar eclipse. It takes place when the moon moves through the faint, outer part of the Earth's shadow. "During a penumbral eclipse, very observant people in the right spot on Earth will look up and notice a dark shading on the moon’s face. Others will look and notice nothing at all," EarthSky writes.
Summer Solstice (June 21)
The summer solstice for 2020, a.k.a. the longest day of the year, is set to happen on June 21. The phenomenon occurs when the northernmost point of the Earth is tilted towards the sun. Subsequently, the winter solstice or the day in the year with the fewest hours of sunlight, is slated for December 21.
Annular Solar Eclipse (June 21)
It looks like June 21's set for a dual astronomical event as the summer solstice will also be marked by an Annular solar eclipse. This phase, characterized by a "ring of fire" around the moon while it covers the center of the sun, can be best viewed from parts of Africa and South Asia, including Pakistan, northern India, and China.
Blue Moon (October 31)
Halloween enthusiasts and trick-or-treaters will spend the spooky holiday under the light of an eerie blue moon. While the phenomenon comes every two or three years, one that's perfectly timed with Halloween is rare. In fact, the next Halloween blue moon is projected for 2039, exactly 19 years from now. Before you ready your cameras expecting to capture the celestial body in the color of the deep blue sea, note that blue moons aren't actually blue. The name of the event was derived from the saying "once in a blue moon," for when a month sees the arrival of two full moons. The second moon that comes around is then called a blue moon.
Geminid Meteors (December 13/14)
At its peak, Geminid meteor showers have been known to produce 100 meteors an hour, and come in multiple colors too. Hence, it's considered one of, if not the most impressive meteor showers of the year. The Geminids will see its peak around December 13 to December 15, luckily coinciding with a new moon, which points to darker skies and a better viewing capacity from below.
Total Solar Eclipse (December 14)
Hours after the Geminid meteors peak will come 2020's only total solar eclipse. On December 14, the eclipse will be clearly visible over the southern Atlantic Ocean, the southeastern Pacific Ocean, and parts of South America. A total solar eclipse occurs at the alignment of the sun, moon, and earth respectively, where the moon fully blocks the sun, casting a shadow on the earth below.