Astronomical SIGHTS in a SKY NEAR YOU!

Graphics c/o Starry Night Education

This page updated Jan 4, 2020 with events to Feb 28, 2020.

See also the HOME page or COMING EVENTS .

VIS. COMETS page has more details and finder charts for currently visible comets.

The Planets for Winter 2020:

Venus by the end of 2019 and into early 2020 is a bright Evening Star but it is pretty much all alone for naked eye planets in the evening sky. Saturn is still visible in the SW sky but it won’t be long before it sinks below the western horizon as Jupiter has done already. But watch for Mercury to re-appear above the western horizon in Jan and Feb.

Mars is now a dawn planet in Scorpius and is above Antares all winter and spring 2020. Both Jupiter and Saturn follow it onto the dawn sky after they round the Sun.

As for the other gas giants, both Uranus and Neptune are well up in evening skies this winter but by the end of Feb, they are lower in the SW sky before midnight. Look for Venus and Neptune to get only 10 minutes of arc (0.2°) from each other Jan 27.

Dwarf planet, Pluto is in Sagittarius and hangs around between Saturn and Jupiter in dawn skies. Finder charts for all planets, dwarf planets and asteroids are found on our CHARTS/FORMS page.

Winter Sky Sights

A summary of the entire 2020 year of ASTRONOMY events can be found here:


Jan 4 Quadrantids
The Quadrantid meteor shower is one of the lesser observed showers because it occurs in the cold month of January, but for once the Moon is not in the way during the peak. Furthermore this shower peak of 50 to 100 meteors per hour (ideally) is of rather short duration and is well placed for N. American observers. The 4-hr peak occurs around 3 am Jan 4 and by that time the radiant is about 30° high and the Moon has set 2 hours previously. Predictions are for 25 per hour as a minimum and be on the lookout for more than a few fireballs. The International Meteor Organization 2020 meteor calendar is here: IMO Meteors 2020 or here: EarthSky Meteor Calendar 2020

The location of the shower radiant is shown in the diagram below.


Jan 10 Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
(visible in eastern hemisphere only). During a penumbral eclipse, the Full Moon passes through the almost invisible outer shadow (penumbra) cast by the Earth into space. It may be detectable by sensitive light measuring devices but not by the naked eye. Photos taken before and at greatest eclipse may show some minor differences, but clear skies are needed. This eclipse is of “academic interest” only and can (may?) be observable from places in the east like India. Note: all four of the lunar eclipses this year are penumbral (Jan 10, Jun 5, Jul 5, and Nov 30) and even then only the last two can be seen from North America.


Jan 20 Last Crescent Moon near Antares and Mars
Look in the dawn sky to see a nice collection of planets and the thin last crescent. The 4-day-before-new Moon is 4 degrees above Mars (magn. 1.44) and 7 degrees above Antares (magn. 1.0). This is a good chance to compare the “redness” of Mars the “Red Planet” and the red giant star Antares whose name translates into “rival of (as in rivalling) Mars”. The ancients saw a distinct colour similarity in the two, hence the name picked for Antares. Mars is less than 10° from Antares from Jan 5 to Feb 1.

Jan 20 2020 Mar Moon Antares

Jan 25 Moon and Mercury 2.2° apart
A very thin crescent Moon appears beside Mercury above the sunset point in the west this evening. This is a difficult observation but the 1-day-old crescent should be visible in twilight. Look to its right (binos help) for the -1 magnitude planet Mercury. The pair set about 40 minutes after the Sun so the sky will still relatively bright, but give it a try. Not often a thin young Moon appears next to one of the inner planets, especially when it is this bright.

Jan 25 Merc Moon

Jan 27 Venus and Neptune a “whisker” apart.
In the western sky tonight, Venus makes a quick pass at Neptune missing it by just under 4 minutes of arc at 2:50 pm or so. By the time the pair become more or less visible when the Sun sets around 5:30 pm, the two are 8 minutes apart and separating by about 3 minutes per hour. When they set at 8:49 pm, they are 17 minutes apart. The 3-day old first crescent Moon is 7° below the pair on Jan 27, and an equal distance above on the 28th.

Jan 27 Venus-Neptune

Feb 28: Crescent Moon near Venus and Uranus
On Friday, Feb 28, the second and third brightest objects in our sky appear close to each other above the western horizon after sunset. Even in bright twilight, Venus shining at it brightest, magnitude -4.22, and the 5-day-old crescent Moon should be easy to spot. The Moon sits 15° above Venus tonight and the two straddle the planet Uranus, shining at magnitude 5.84 about 5° below the Moon along a line to Venus. Uranus won’t likely be seen naked eye tonight because of the bright moon nearby, but binos should show it.

Feb 28 Ven Moon Uranus