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The Buzz

2020 Will Start With Some Stellar Sky-Watching




(Photo via Shutterstock)

Fireworks will light up the night in many places as we ring in 2020, but once the new year is here, a different kind of show will be taking over the night sky.

The new year will start in the midst of the Quadrantids meteor shower, but it will hit its peak the night of January 3 into January 4. The Quadrantids is one of the most active meteor showers of the year, and this is an exceptionally good year for the shower, with as many as 100 meteors per hour, Space.com reports. The show will continue until January 10, although it won't produce as many shooting stars after its peak. 

The Quadrantids always has the potential to be one of the best meteor showers of the year, but January's cold and often dreary weather dampens the outlook for viewing these shooting stars. The best time to view the meteors from the Quadrantids is in the early morning hours before dawn. This year, the moon will be about 58 percent full on the night it peaks, creating semi-dark sky conditions.

After the Quadrantids, the next meteor shower of 2020 will be the Lyrids, which will run from April 16 until April 28, peaking the night of April 21 into April 22, according to the American Meteor Society

The planets will stage a few close encounters this month as well. On the night of January 27, Venus and Neptune will have their closest conjunction of the year, staged just 1/12 of a degree apart from one another, EarthSky reports. 

Venus is the brightest planet in our solar system, outshining Neptune, the faintest and most distant planet, by about 60,000 times, according to EarthSky. Venus will be visible in the night sky with the naked eye, but to see the conjunction of these two planets you'll need a good telescope to catch a glimpse of Neptune.

The full moon for January will occur on January 10. The precise moment the moon will reach its fullest point is 1:21 p.m. January's full moon is often called the wolf moon because wolves tend to howl more at this time of year, according to the Farmer's Almanac. Other names for the January full moon include the old moon, the moon after yule and the baby bear moon, because bear cubs are typically born in January.

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