Title graphic for Sea and Sky's astronomy reference guide, astronomers observing the night sky

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events
for Calendar Year 2010


This astronomy calendar of celestial events contains dates for notable celestial events including moon phases, meteor showers, eclipses, oppositions, conjunctions, and other interesting events. Most of the astronomical events on this calendar can be seen with unaided eye, although some may require a good pair of binoculars for best viewing. Many of these events and dates used here were obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and The Old Farmer's Almanac. Events on the calendar are organized by date and each is identified with an astronomy icon as outlined below. Times given in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) must be converted to your local time. You can use the UTC clock below to figure out how many hours to add or subtract for your local time.

Legend for astronomy calendar icons


Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

 

  • January 2, 3 - Quadrantids Meteor Shower. The Quadrantids is an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak. It is thought to be produced by dust grains left behind by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. The shower runs annually from January 1-5. It peaks this year on the night of the 2nd and morning of the 3rd. Unfortunately the nearly full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • January 15 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • January 15 - Annular Solar Eclipse. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is too far away from the Earth to completely cover the Sun. This results in a ring of light around the darkened Moon. The Sun's corona is not visible during an annular eclipse. The path of annularity will begin in central Africa and move east through the Indian Ocean, southern India, Sri Lanka, Malymar, and China. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout most eastern Africa and Asia. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

  • January 29 - Mars at Opposition. The red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This year's approach will not be quite as close as it was in historic 2003, when Mars was only 34.7 million miles away. But at only 61.7 million miles, this is the best time to view and photograph Mars for quite some time to come. A medium-sized telescope will allow you to see some of the dark details on the planet's orange surface. You may even be able to see one or both of the bright white polar ice caps.

  • January 30 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon will be closest and therefore the largest of the year. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Wolf Moon because this was the time of year when hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps. This moon has also been know as the Old Moon and the Moon After Yule.

  • February 9 - Asteroid 2009 UN3 Close Approach.This asteroid is just under a kilometer in size and will pass within 14.5 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. is should be visible in moderate or larger size telescopes near the border of the constellations Lepus and Columba. It will be a little easier to see in the Southern Hemisphere, where it will have an apparent movement of 50 arc seconds per minute, nearly fast enough to see the movement in the telescope. (Asteroid 2009 UN3 Information)

  • February 14 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • February 16 - Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. Conjunctions are rare events where two or more objects will appear extremely close together in the night sky. These two bright planets will come within half a degree of each other this evening. Unfortunately they will be quite close to the Sun and can easily get lost in the glare. Look slightly above and to the left of the setting Sun.

  • February 28 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Snow Moon because the heaviest snows usually fell during this time of the year. Since hunting is difficult, this moon has also been known by some tribes as the Full Hunger Moon.

  • March 15 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • March 20 - March Equinox. The March Equinox occurs at 23:21 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • March 22 - Saturn at Opposition. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons. Saturn's rings will be nearly edge-on this year and will be very difficult to see. A medium-sized or larger telescope will allow you to see Saturn's rings and a few of its brightest moons.

  • March 30 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Worm Moon because this was the time of year when the ground would begin to soften and the earthworms would reappear. This moon has also been known as the Full Crow Moon, the Full Crust Moon, and the Full Sap Moon.

  • April 1 - 30 - Global Astronomy Month. The month of april this year has been designated Global Astronomy Month. This global outreach event hopes to generate interest in astronomy for people all over the world.

  • April 14 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • April 21, 22 - Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25. It peaks this year on the night of the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight, leaving dark skies for the what could be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • April 24 - Astronomy Day Part 1.Astronomy day is a grass roots movement to share the joys of astronomy with the general public. Two days this year have been designated as Astronomy Day. On these days astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. You can find out more about April's events by checking the Web site for for AstronomyDay.org and the Astronomical League.

  • April 28 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Pink Moon because it marked the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the first spring flowers. This moon has also been known as the Sprouting Grass Moon and the Growing Moon.

  • May 5, 6 - Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids is an above average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. It peaks this year on the night of May 5 and the morning of the May 6. The second quarter moon will block all but the brightest meteors this year, but you should still be able to catch quite a few good ones if you are patient. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • May 14 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • May 19 - International Sidewalk Astronomy Night. Join amateur astronomers all over the world as they set up their telescopes in public places to share the night sky with everyone. Many astronomy clubs and organizations around the world will have special events to celebrate and share the wonder of astronomy. Check their Web site for details.

  • May 27 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

  • June 12 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • June 21 - June Solstice. The June solstice occurs at 17:16 UTC. The North Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude. This is the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • June 26 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Strawberry Moon because it signaled the time of year to gather ripening fruit. It also coincides with the peak of the strawberry harvesting season. This moon has also been known as the Full Rose Moon and the Full Honey Moon.

  • June 26 - Partial Lunar Eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth's partial shadow, or penumbra, and only a portion of it passes through the darkest shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse a part of the Moon will darken as it moves through the Earth's shadow. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern Asia, Australia, the Pacific Ocean, and the western Americas. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

  • July 2 - Comet McNaught. On July 2, newly discovered comet McNaught makes its closest approach to the Sun. It will be visible in the early morning sky just before dawn for several weeks before and will grow gradually brighter as July 2 approaches. Make sure you find a dark location far away from city lights. The comet will appear as a dim, fuzzy spot of light. A good pair of binoculars will really help to make it clearly visible. It is too early to tell if the comet will grow a tail visible to the naked eye. For more information, click here.

  • July 11 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • July 11 - Total Solar Eclipse. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the Sun, revealing the Sun's beautiful outer atmosphere known as the corona. The path of totality will only be visible in the southern Pacific Ocean, Easter Island, and parts of southern Chile and Argentina. A partial eclipse will be visible in many parts of southern South America. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

  • July 26 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Buck Moon because the male buck deer would begin to grow their new antlers at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Full Thunder Moon and the Full Hay Moon.

  • July 28, 29 - Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by comets Marsden and Kracht. The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23. It peaks this year on the night of July 28 and morning of July 29. The nearly full moon will be a problem this year, blocking out all but the brightest meteors. If you are patient, you should still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • August 10 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • August 12, 13 - Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. It peaks this year on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13. This will be an excellent year for the Perseids because the thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • August 13 - Triple Conjunction with the Moon. Conjunctions are rare events where two or more objects will appear extremely close together in the night sky. The planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn will all be close to the thin, crescent moon on this evening. Look to the west just after sunset.

  • August 20 - Neptune at Opposition. The giant blue planet will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is the best time to view and photograph Neptune. Since the planet is so far away from Earth, it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.

  • August 24 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon will be the most distant and therefore the smallest of the year. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Sturgeon Moon because the large sturgeon fish of the Great Lakes and other major lakes were more easily caught at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.

  • September 8 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • September 21 - Jupiter at Opposition. The Solar System's largest planet will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons. The giant planet will be a big and bright as it gets in the night sky. A medium-sized telescope should be able to show you some of the details in Jupiter's cloud bands. A good pair of binoculars should allow you to see Jupiter's four largest moons, appearing as bright dots on either side of the planet. This year, Jupiter will be closer to the Earth than is has been in 50 years. The last time it was this close was in 1963. It won't get this close again until 2022.

  • September 22 - Uranus at Opposition. The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is the best time to view Uranus, although it will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes. Since Jupiter will also be at opposition this week, this will provide a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see both planets close together. Look for a small blue-green spot of light less than one degree from Jupiter.

  • September 23 - September Equinox. The September equinox occurs at 09:05 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • September 23 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Corn Moon because the corn is harvested around this time of year. This moon is also known as the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the September equinox each year.

  • October 7 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • October 16 - Astronomy Day Part 2. Astronomy day is a grass roots movement to share the joys of astronomy with the general public. Two days this year have been designated as Astronomy Day. On these days astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. You can find out more about October's events by checking the Web sites for AstronomyDay.org and the Astronomical League.

  • October 20 - Comet Hartley 2. The comet will make its closest approach to Earth, coming within 11.2 million miles. For a few days around October 20, the comet should be bright enough to view with the naked eye in the early morning sky. You will, however, need to be far away from the glow of city lights. Look to the east just before sunrise. In early November, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft will observe comet Hartley 2 from a distance of about 600 miles.

  • October 21, 22 - Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The nearly full moon will block some of the meteors this year, but the Orionids tend to be fairly bright so it could still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • October 23 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt. This moon has also been known as the Travel Moon and the Blood Moon.

  • November 6 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • November 17, 18 - Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is an average shower, producing an average of up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th. The waxing gibbous moon will block some of the dim meteors this year, but if you are patient you should be able to catch quite a few good ones. The moon will set just before sunrise, so this would be the best time to observe. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • November 21 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Beaver Moon because this was the time of year to set the beaver traps before the swamps and rivers froze. It has also been known as the Frosty Moon and the Hunter's Moon.

  • December 5 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • December 13, 14 - Geminids Meteor Shower. The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers. It is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. It peaks this year on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • December 21 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Cold Moon because this is the time of year when the cold winter air settles in and the nights become long and dark. This moon has also been known as the Moon Before Yule and the Full Long Nights Moon.

  • December 21 - Total Lunar Eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely through the Earth's dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern Asia, Australia, the Pacific Ocean, the Americas, and Europe. The eclipse will be visible after midnight in North and South America. Since the Moon will be almost directly overhead from these locations, this should be an excellent chance to view a rare total lunar eclipse. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

  • December 21 - December Solstice. The December solstice occurs 05:30 UTC. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere.

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