Astronomical Calendar of Celestial Events Throughout 2019
2019 will be another spectacular year for astronomers across the globe! At High Point Scientific, we have carefully compiled a list of all the most incredible astronomical events that you will not want to miss. Be sure to get outside for these amazing opportunities to view meteor showers, planetary oppositions, and eclipses. There is even a Supermoon Lunar Eclipse in January that promises to be the must-see event this winter. The Transit of Mercury in November gives solar astronomers a breathtaking event to look forward to, as Mercury makes its way across the face of the Sun. So grab a hot coffee, set up your best telescopes and enjoy many nights of amazing astronomical events in 2019.
Please Note: These celestial events happen all around the world, from the USA to South America; from Russia to Australia. While we are using our local time (ET) for many dates throughout this calendar, we also use UTC, or Universal Time, with events that are super time-dependent, such as a solar or lunar eclipse. In these instances, you will need to calculate your local time from one of the many online time converters or charts.
January 3rd, Quadrantids Meteor Shower - As the first meteor shower of 2019, the Quadrantids can produce up to 40 meteors per hour, making it a favorite among meteor shower enthusiasts. This year’s Quadrantids shows promise with minimal light from the crescent Moon and will peak late the night of January 3rd until dawn January 4th. Depending on your location, the radiant of the shower will appear roughly 11° above the northeastern horizon at midnight. The best place to observe is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark portion of the sky which is around 30–40° away from the radiant in order to see the long meteor trails.
January 5th, New Moon - With the absence of moonlight, the New Moon is the perfect opportunity to observe star clusters, galaxies and other deep-space objects. If you have been trying to image faint objects, such as the elusive Horsehead Nebula, the New Moon gives you a dark sky to do just that.
January 5th, Venus at Greatest Western Elongation - Venus will be visible just before sunrise during its Greatest Western Elongation. Elongations are the ideal time to view inferior planets, such as Mercury or Venus because they will be at their highest point above the horizon. Look for Venus roughly 47° from the Sun during the early morning hours in the eastern sky.
January 5/6, Partial Solar Eclipse - During this Partial Solar Eclipse, we will see the Moon cover only a part of the Sun, resulting in the Sun appearing crescent shaped. Solar astronomers will be able to see it best in parts of Eastern Russia and Northeastern Asia, where the Moon can be seen covering up to 62% of the Sun. The Partial Solar Eclipse will begin on January 5th at 23:34:08 UTC and end on January 6th at 03:48:46 UTC. Maximum Eclipse will occur at precisely 1:41:26 on January 6th UTC.
January 20th, Wolf Supermoon - The howling of wolves inspired this month’s Full Moon name. North America has “unofficial” names for Full Moons that are said to originate from aspects of early Native American and Anglo-Saxon culture. January’s Full Moon coincides with its closest approach to Earth, known as perigee. If a Full Moon is also at perigee it will appear bigger and brighter than usual, and earn itself the moniker “Supermoon”.
January 20/21, Full Lunar Eclipse - As the Full Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow or umbra, the Moon will grow darker and darker until appearing a deep, rusty red. This is why a Lunar Eclipse is also called a Blood Moon. The penumbral phase of the eclipse will begin on January 21 at 02:36:29 UTC and end on January 21 at 07:48:02 UTC. If you prefer to just watch totality, it will begin at 04:41:17 UTC and end at 05:43:15 UTC.
This special sky event can be seen throughout North and South America as well as parts of the UK, Europe, and Russia. Eclipses are always special, but this one will be more so because this Full Moon is also a Supermoon! The rusty red Moon will appear closer and brighter than most Full Moons, and best of all, you don’t even need a telescope to enjoy it! The eclipsed Supermoon can easily be seen with the naked eye.
January 22nd, Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter - The conjunction of Venus and Jupiter gives us an opportunity to see our two brightest planets in the early morning hours of January 22nd. At this time, the planets will be within 2.4° of each other in the Southeast portion of the sky. This is a unique chance to see both planets way closer to each other than they normally are, so don’t miss out!
February 4th, New Moon - February 4th is the night when the Moon will be almost exactly between the Earth and Sun, making it a New Moon. This is a great time to view or image nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters or other faint celestial objects because we will only be able to see the Moon during daylight hours. Since the lunar calendar repeats roughly every 29.26 days, you will have another opportunity to take advantage of a New Moon in no time.
February 19th, Snow Supermoon - The second Supermoon of 2019 will occur on February 19th. This is also the closest the Moon will be to Earth of all of the Supermoons this year. What a perfect time to observe the Moon’s surface features with binoculars! This Full Moon is called the Snow Moon because February is traditionally the month when North America would experience the heaviest snowfall. We will be crossing our fingers for less snow so we can stay out observing!
February 26th, Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation - Mercury will be about 18.1° from the Sun when it’s at Greatest Eastern Elongation. Since the planet will be at its highest point in the sky, this is a good time to see Mercury. Look for elusive Mercury low in the western sky just after sunset.
March 6th, New Moon - A New Moon is the perfect opportunity to image or observe faint sky objects like galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. This is because the Moon will be almost precisely between the Earth and Sun, so it will not be visible, revealing a dark night sky for you to enjoy.
March 20th, Vernal Equinox - The Vernal Equinox marks the beginning of spring for the Northern Hemisphere. This is also one of two days each year when the night is the same duration as the day. From here until the solstice, days will grow longer and longer, leaving you with less time to view the night sky, so make every minute count!
March 20th, Worm Supermoon - The final Supermoon for 2019 falls on the Worm Moon. This is your last opportunity to view or take a photo with a telescope camera with the Moon so close to Earth! March’s Full Moon is called the Worm Moon because of the earthworms that emerge this time of year as spring approaches. The Worm Moon also marks the end of the winter season.
April 5th, New Moon - April 5th’s New Moon means the Moon will not show up in the night sky. The absence of light from the Moon makes this an excellent time to capture photos or observe deep-sky objects. A New Moon occurs almost every month, so you have another opportunity to take advantage of a New Moon in about 29.26 days.
April 11th, Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation - Mercury will be at its Greatest Western Elongation in the early morning hours of April 11th. At this time, Mercury will be at its highest point above the eastern horizon, making it the perfect opportunity to view or image the small, elusive planet.
April 19th, Pink Full Moon - April 19th will be the next time to catch a Full Moon. April’s Full Moon is often referred to as a Pink Moon because of the abundance of Creeping Phlox flowers that normally bloom this month in North America. No telescope is required! Sit back and look up at the night sky to see our beautiful Full Moon.
April 22nd, Lyrids Meteor Shower - The Lyrids usually produce a good rate of meteors, roughly 20 meteors per hour. The radiant, or epicenter, of the shower, will be located near the constellation Lyra, sending meteors soaring out from that location. The radiant will appear high in the sky. With the Full Moon just 3 nights prior, however, the significant moonlight interference means that you will only be able to see the brightest meteors. The Lyrid Meteor Shower will peak the night of April 22nd and end the morning of April 23rd. Some meteors will even be visible in the nights leading up to and after these dates.
May 4th, New Moon - A New Moon is the lunar phase that occurs when the Moon is almost precisely between the Earth and Sun. The Moon will not be visible in the night sky on May 4th, making it the perfect night in May to view or image faint celestial objects such as nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters.
May 5th, Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower - The Eta Aquarids are produced by dust particles left by Halley’s Comet, one of the most iconic and well-documented comets to orbit our solar system. The meteor shower peaks the night of May 5th, ending the morning of May 6th. However, meteors will be visible before and after these dates. Although it only produces about 20 meteors per hour, this should be a great night to view the Eta Aquarids because there will be minimal moonlight interference from the crescent Moon.
May 18th, Blue Full Moon - This year’s May Full Moon receives the special designation as a seasonal Blue Moon because it is the third Full Moon to occur in a season with four Full Moons. Usually, there are only three Full Moons that occur for each season, but four Full Moons are known to occur in a season every few years because a Full Moon takes place about once every 29.26 days. This gave rise to the term “Once in a Blue Moon.” This is not to be confused with another common definition for a Blue Moon, which is the second Full Moon to occur in a single month. May’s Full Moon is also known as the Flower Moon because of the flowers that bloom this month.
June 3rd, New Moon - June 3rd is the night when the Moon will be almost exactly between the Earth and Sun, making it a New Moon. This means we will not see the Moon on June 3rd at night, making it the perfect time this month to view or image star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, or other faint celestial objects. A New Moon occurs about every 29.26 days, so you will have another opportunity to take advantage of a New Moon in no time.
June 10th, Jupiter Opposition - The opposition of Jupiter occurs on the night of June 10th, although you will have great views before and after this date as well. A planetary opposition occurs when the Sun, Earth, and an outer planet, such as Jupiter, are in alignment. This makes an opposition the ideal time to observe and photograph the planet. Although you will be able to pick out Jupiter with the naked eye as a bright dot in the sky, a medium-sized telescope will help you see more details, including the cloud bands encircling Jupiter as well as four of its satellites, or moons.
June 17th, Strawberry Full Moon - June’s Full Moon will occur the night of June 17th. This Full Moon is often called the Strawberry Moon in Northern America because of the wild strawberries that ripen around this time. The Full Moon is a great time to view the Moon’s craters or image the Moon in all its glory.
June 21st, Summer Solstice - The Summer Solstice, on June 21st, is the longest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere and marks the beginning of summer. This also means that it is the shortest night of 2019, so every minute is precious for astronomy observers and astrophotographers. After June 21st, the days will get shorter and nights will get longer, giving you more and more night sky to enjoy.
June 23rd, Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation - When a planet is at Greatest Elongation, it is at its highest point above the horizon. Therefore, Mercury will be more easily seen than usual when it is at Greatest Eastern Elongation on June 23rd. Since the planet is at Eastern Elongation, Mercury can be found above the western horizon just after sunset.
July 2nd, New Moon - The first New Moon in July will be an excellent opportunity to image or observe celestial objects that are more difficult to find, like nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters. This is because the Moon will be almost precisely between the Earth and Sun, so it will not be visible in the night sky, leaving you with a darker, black sky.
July 2nd, Total Solar Eclipse - The only Total Solar Eclipse in 2019 sweeps across the central portion of Chile and Argentina late in the afternoon of Tuesday, July 2, and will begin at 18:01:08 UTC. As the Moon slowly moves over the face of the Sun the sky will grow darker, and when totality begins, at 19:22:57 UTC, or about 4:36 PM local time, you will be treated to a spectacular 360-degree sunset and the delight of seeing a few stars twinkling in the sky. Be sure to view the Solar Eclipse with solar-specific binoculars, telescopes, or glasses in order to protect your precious eyes from sun damage.
July 9th, Saturn Opposition - On June 9th, Saturn and the Sun will be on the opposite sides of the solar system, leaving us with a great chance to observe the planet. This night Saturn can be easily found within the constellation of Sagittarius. Saturn will appear brighter and closer to Earth than most times in 2019. This means you can observe and photograph Saturn’s rings and even some of its Moons using a telescope. Or you can look up at the sky and see Saturn as a golden dot in the night sky.
July 16th, Buck Full Moon - July’s Full Moon is often referred to as the Buck Moon in North America. This is because July is traditionally the time of year when male deer grow their new antlers. The Full Moon is also a great time to observe or image the Moon since it will appear full and bright in the night sky.
July 16/17 Partial Lunar Eclipse - A Partial Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through only part of Earth’s darkest shadow, known as the umbra. This results in a Full Moon that will grow darker across a portion of the Moon, resulting in a partially dark red Moon. The Partial Lunar Eclipse can be visible in many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and most of Asia. The eclipse begins at 18:43:51 UTC on July 16 and ends at 00:17:38 UTC on July 17.
July 28th, Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower - The Delta Aquarids are an annual meteor shower that will peak on July 28th of this year. At its peak, the shower is known to produce up to 20 meteors per hour. The radiate for this shower is within the constellation Aquarius, so your best viewing will be 30° - 40° away from that spot. This allows you to see the long meteor trails streak across the sky. The Delta Aquarids are known to stretch out for days, even weeks before and after the peak, so if you miss the crescendo, be sure to look for the Delta Aquarids in the days afterward.
July 31st, Black New Moon - This is the second New Moon for the month of July! This second New Moon in the same month is called a Black Moon and does not occur very often. July 31st will be another night in July when the Moon will not be visible in the night sky. The absence of light from the Moon makes this a great time to capture photos or observe deep-sky objects.
August 9th, Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation - Mercury will reach Greatest Western Elongation on August 9th. On this day, you will have a great opportunity to see the small planet because it will be at its highest point above the eastern horizon just before sunrise.
August 13th, Perseids Meteor Shower - The Perseids are arguably one of the best meteor showers to see in 2019. The Perseids are comprised of dust particles from the Comet Swift-Tuttle that shoot through the sky at up to 60 meteors per hour, especially at its peak after midnight on August 13th. Although the radiant is within the constellation Perseus, it is possible for meteors to shoot through any part of the night sky. Because the Perseids Meteor Shower produces a lot of bright meteors, this a great opportunity for budding astrophotographers to capture a meteor shower, as long you are in a dark sky location.
August 15th, Sturgeon Full Moon - A Full Moon will take place the night of August 15th, giving you another chance to view and image the Moon in all its splendor. In North America, August’s Full Moon is often called the Sturgeon Moon because of the many sturgeons that were caught in lakes and rivers this time of year. Sturgeons are one of North America’s longest living fish, living up to 150 years! They are now extremely rare to find in the wild due to overfishing and damage to their habitat.
August 30th, New Moon - The New Moon marks the time in the lunar cycle when the Moon is almost precisely between the Earth and Sun. The Moon will not be visible in the night sky on August 30th, making it the perfect night in August to view or image faint celestial objects such as nebulae, galaxies and star clusters.
September 10th, Neptune Opposition - If you have a substantial telescope, the September 10th opposition is your chance to view or image Neptune. This normally elusive planet will be closest to Earth on this date, though you will still be able to view it with a larger telescope in the nights before and after September 10th as well. You will find Neptune in the constellation Aquarius. We recommend viewing the opposition with a telescope that has at least an 8” aperture since Neptune is relatively small and dim.
September 14th, Harvest Full Moon - The Harvest Moon may very well be the most well known Full Moon name. While it traditionally refers to the time when farmers would gather their crops, the term has been used by many North American cultures over the centuries to signify the month closest to the Autumnal Equinox.
September 23rd, Autumnal Equinox - The Autumnal Equinox marks the beginning of fall for the Northern Hemisphere. This is the second and final day of the year when the night is the same duration as the day. From here until the solstice, nights will grow longer and longer, giving you even more time to view the night sky. What a treat!
September 28th, New Moon - September’s New Moon, on September 28th, will be your best chance this month to image or observe star clusters, galaxies, nebulae, and other faint objects located deep in space. This is because the Moon will be almost precisely between the Earth and Sun, so it will not be visible in the night sky.
October 8th, Draconids Meteor Shower - The Draconids are a meteor shower that occurs annually and comes from the remnants of the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. Although considered a minor meteor shower, the Draconids produced one of the most spectacular displays in recent history when it was visible in 2011. That year, a meteor outburst occurred, sending thousands of meteors shooting through the sky. At its peak on October 8th of this year, however, you will be able to see only up to 10 meteors per hour. Catch the radiant within the Draco constellation and see the most meteors early in the evening.
October 13th, Hunter’s Full Moon - October’s Full Moon is called the Hunter’s Moon to traditionally signify the hunting season in North America. In October, the game is fat and ready to hunt, allowing early North American people to gather meat to prepare for the winter. For astronomers, the Full Moon is a great time to hunt down craters or other surface features of the Moon because it will be at its fullest.
October 19th, Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation - When Mercury is at Greatest Eastern Elongation, the planet can be seen just above the western horizon. Although it will appear low in the sky just after sunset, Mercury will be at its highest point in the sky, making it a great time to see this elusive planet.
October 21st, Orionids Meteor Shower - The Orionids will peak this year on the night of October 21st until October 22nd. The meteors from this shower come from the comet Halley and are usually pretty bright, so you should have great views of up to 20 meteors per hour. Although the radiant is within the constellation Orion, it is possible to see meteors traversing anywhere through the night sky.
October 27th, New Moon - October 27th’s New Moon means the Moon will not show up in the night sky. The absence of light from the Moon makes this an excellent time to capture photos or observe deep-sky objects. A New Moon occurs almost every month, so you have another opportunity to take advantage of a New Moon in about 29.26 days.
October 28th, Uranus Opposition - October 28th is the best time to view Uranus with a telescope because it will be at its closest to Earth for this year. A planetary opposition is a point in a planet’s orbit when it is aligned with Earth and the Sun. Therefore, it’s on the opposite side of the solar system from the Sun, as the name suggests. To view Uranus, you will need a sizeable telescope and good viewing conditions because it is one of the faintest planets in our solar system. Look for Uranus south of constellation Aries.
November 5th, South Taurid Meteor Shower - The Southern Taurids is a quieter meteor shower, producing only up to 10 meteors per hour. This is the first of two streams that create the Taurid Meteor Shower. The South Taurid is made of dust and pebbles from Comet Encke. These weightier pebbles are known for burning up into colorful fireballs, creating a spectacle of lights in the sky. With minimal moonlight from the crescent Moon, the South Taurids could be an excellent opportunity to see some of these rare fireballs! Other than the peak on November 5th, you will be able to see the South Taurid meteor shower anywhere in the sky in the weeks before and after November 5th. The Taurids have a radiant near the constellation Taurus, where the shower gets its name from.
November 11th, Mercury Inferior Solar Conjunction - Catch Mercury traversing across the Sun during this rare planetary transit. On November 11th, we will see Mercury’s small dark sphere traverse its way across the face of the Sun during this truly unique solar event. The transit of Mercury will be the highlight of this winter because planetary transits occur much less often than oppositions or solar eclipses. The eastern portion of North America and all of South America will be able to catch the transit of Mercury in its entirety on the morning of November 11th from about 7:36 a.m. to 1:03 p.m. When viewing this spectacular solar event, be sure to use equipment that will keep your eyes safe from sun damage. A solar telescope or filter will give you your best views (Mercury will just be a tiny dot on the Sun), but however you view this event, make sure you protect your eyes! We will not see another transit of Mercury until 2039, so don’t miss out!
November 12th, Beaver Full Moon - The night of November 12th marks the Beaver Moon. November is known by this name because beavers build their winter dams at this time. While we may not see the beavers out this night, the November Full Moon is a good chance to observe our own Moon in all of its splendor.
November 12th, North Taurid Meteor Shower - The second portion of the Taurids Meteor Shower peaks on November 12th, giving us another opportunity to see its colorful fireballs shoot through the sky. The North Taurid Meteor Shower is made of debris from 2004 TG10, an eccentric asteroid that was only first observed in 2004. November 12th promises to be an even better peak than its other Taurid counterpart because both the South and North Taurid showers will be active on this night. This means we will have a better chance of seeing more meteors. Even in the weeks before or after November 12th, you may still see remnants of the North Taurid.
November 18th, Leonids Meteor Shower - Three meteors showers in one month?! Wow! By the time the Leonids peak on the night of November 18th, there may still be remnants of the Taurids, making it more likely that we will see meteors and fireballs in the sky. With a radiant located in Leo, meteors can be seen dashing away from this constellation, creating long meteor trails. We recommend observing the shower 30° - 40° away from the radiant to see these beautiful trails.
November 24th, Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter - Witness Venus and Jupiter neck and neck in the night sky on November 24th! Just after sunset, you will see these two planets right next to each other in the western sky. This makes for some cool photos and a fun viewing experience.
November 26th, New Moon - The Moon will not be visible in the night sky on November 26th. This makes November 26th a great night to break out your telescope to view or image faint celestial objects such as star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae.
November 28th, Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation - When at Greatest Elongation, Mercury will be the highest in the sky that it will get during its orbit around the Sun. Since Mercury usually hovers around the horizon, this will be the best chance to see it or capture an image of the planet. Mercury will be visible just above the eastern horizon about 20.1° from the Sun right before sunrise.
December 12th, Cold Full Moon - Winter is cold in many parts of North America! That is why December’s Full Moon is called the Cold Moon. In fact, December is often seen as the coldest month of the year, bringing snow, sleet, and ice along with it. For astronomers, this may pose a challenge to get to dark sky locations. Maybe it’s time for some backyard observations of the Full Moon. This is also the last Full Moon of 2019.
December 14th, Geminids Meteor Shower - The Geminids are the holy grail of all meteor showers. Known to produce up to 120 colorful meteors at its peak, this shower is beloved by astronomers for its spectacle of colors sent soaring through the sky. The Geminids are named after the constellation Gemini, where you will find the radiant of this shower. The Geminids are derived from debris broken off from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Although there will be significant moonlight this year, the Geminids produce such bright and numerous meteors that it’s still worth getting outside to take a look.
December 21st, Winter Solstice - The shortest day of 2019 for the Northern Hemisphere will be on December 21st as winter officially begins. This also makes it the longest night of the year, so if there is minimal cloud coverage, it could be a great night to capture plenty of deep-space images. You will have lots of time this night to get all of your astronomy observations in before dawn.
December 22nd, Ursids Meteor Shower - This minor meteor shower is often overshadowed by flashier showers, but the Ursids may be just as interesting to watch. Minimal moonlight is expected, so you will be able to see up to 10 meteors per hour at its peak on December 22nd. The radiant is within the Ursa Minor constellation, but meteors can be seen anywhere in the sky shooting away from this location.
December 26th, New Moon - The final New Moon of 2019 will take place on December 26th. The New Moon is a great time to grab your telescope and see some of the faintest celestial objects out there because there is no moonlight interference.
December 26th, Annular Solar Eclipse - The Annular Solar Eclipse on December 26th is unlike any other eclipse that we will experience this year. This special partial eclipse occurs when the Moon passes in front of the Sun but does not block out its outer edges. Depending on your location, the annular eclipse begins at 02:29:53 UTC, and the Moon will slowly move in front of the Sun, making the sky darker and darker, until only the outermost edges of the Sun are visible. During this time, at about 05:17:46 UTC, the Sun will look like a bright, fiery ring against a dark sky. As the Moon moves away from the Sun, the sky will grow brighter until daytime is restored. . This unique solar eclipse will be completely visible in parts of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia; although a partial eclipse can be seen from much of the Middle East and South Asia. Like all solar events, make sure to wear proper eye protection when viewing the Annular Solar Eclipse.