What you need to discover about the Moon in 2020

What you need to discover about the Moon in 2020

All the phases and eclipses of our natural satellite and a map to identify its most beautiful formations.

Recognize the seas, mountain ranges and larger craters with this map of our satellite. The darker seas are clearly visible to the naked eye and, depending on the phase, it is also possible to locate a few craters, but binoculars will allow you to cross a course and find many of the lunar formations indicated on this map. If you want to identify smaller craters, a telescope or telescope becomes essential.
Map of Guillaume Cannat (background image credits: NASA / GSFC / LRO / WAC / DLR / Arizona State University)

Here is the list of all the phases of the Moon in 2020 in legal time for metropolitan France. The constellation indicated is that in which the center of the lunar disc is actually located at the precise time of the phase for observers in metropolitan France; in certain cases, the Moon can therefore be located in the neighboring sign at another time of the given day. Depending on your longitude and your time difference from universal time, the moon phase may arrive for you the day before or the day after the date given here.

January 2020
First quarter on 3 (Whale)
Full moon on 10 (Gemini)
Last quarter on 17 (Virgo)
New moon on 24 (Capricorn)

February 2020
First quarter on 2 (Aries)
Full moon on 9 (Leo)
Last quarter on 15 (Libra)
New moon on 23 (Aquarius)

March 2020
First quarter on 2 (Taurus)
Full moon on 9 (Leo)
Last quarter on 16 (Ophiuchus)
New moon on 24 (Pisces)

The Full Golden Moon of Friday September 13, 2019 rises next to Anna’s tree, on the Causse Méjan (Cévennes National Park). Technical: Sony A7s housing at the focal point of a Takahashi telescope 106 mm in diameter and 530 mm focal length; installation of 1 / 40th of a second at 500 ISO without training.
© Guillaume Cannat

April 2020
First quarter on 1 st  (Gemini)
Full moon on 8 (Virgo)
Last quarter on 15 (Sagittarius)
New moon on 23 (Whale)
First quarter on 30 (Cancer)

May 2020
Full moon on the 7th (Libra)
Last quarter on the 14th (Capricorn)
New moon on the 22nd (Taurus)
First quarter on the 30th (Leo)

June 2020
Full moon on the 5th (Ophiuchus)
Last quarter on the 13th (Aquarius)
New moon on the 21st (Gemini)
First quarter on the 28th (Virgo)

A partial eclipse of the Moon by the penumbra surrounding the shadow of the Earth occurs on June 5  ; it is very delicate to observe at dusk in mainland France, but easier to notice in the middle of the night in Reunion.

On Sunday June 21, the new moon eclipses the solar disk. Our satellite is traveling a little too far from Earth on this day for its apparent diameter to be sufficient to completely obscure the Sun, so it is an annular eclipse which is visible – with the appropriate means of protection – in a thin sweeping corridor our planet from central Africa to the Pacific Ocean. At most, the annular phase lasts only 38 seconds.

July 2020
Full moon on the 5th (Sagittarius)
Last quarter on the 13th (Pisces)
New moon on the 20th (Cancer)
First quarter on the 27th (Virgo)

A partial eclipse of the Moon by the penumbra surrounding the shadow of the Earth occurs on July 5  ; it is practically unobservable in Europe.

August 2020
Full moon on the 3rd (Capricorn)
Last quarter on the 11th (Aries)
New moon on the 19th (Leo)
First quarter on the 25th (Scorpio)

September 2020
Full moon on the 2nd (Aquarius)
Last quarter on the 10th (Taurus)
New moon on the 17th (Virgo)
First quarter on the 24th (Sagittarius)

The very thin Crescent Moon on Sunday October 27, 22 hours before the new moon. Image taken at the Pises observatory in the International Dark Sky Reserve of the Cévennes National Park. Technical: Sony A7s with 180 mm Nikon telephoto lens; installation of 1 / 50th at ISO 200.
© Guillaume Cannat

October 2020
Full moon on the 1st  (Whale)
Last quarter on the 10th (Gemini)
New moon on the 16th (Virgo)
First quarter on the 23rd (Capricorn)
Full moon on the 31st (Aries)

November 2020
Last quarter on 8 (Cancer)
New moon on 15 (Libra)
First quarter on 22 (Aquarius)
Full moon on 30 (Taurus)

A partial eclipse of the Moon by the penumbra surrounding the shadow of the Earth occurs on November 30 ; it is not observable in mainland France, but observable in the West Indies and throughout the Pacific Ocean.

December 2020
Last quarter on 8 (Leo)
New moon on 14 (Ophiuchus)
First quarter on 22 (Pisces)
Full moon on 30 (Gemini)

Monday, December 14, the only total solar eclipse of the year occurs. The disc of the new moon slides in front of the Sun and completely obscures it for more than two minutes. Like that of July 2, 2019, this total eclipse is only observable in Chile and Argentina. The whole occurs in the middle of the day with the Sun at almost 70 ° in height.

All the phases of the total solar eclipse of July 2, 2019 photographed by Petr Horálek above the domes of the southern European observatory of La Silla (Chile).
Credits: ESO / Petr Horálek

Where and when to observe the Moon?
With the exception of the few days that surround the new moon, our neighbor is always visible at one time or another during the day or at night. The table below tells you where to look for it according to its phase. It is usable whatever your place of observation on Earth, but for observers located north of the Tropic of Cancer, the Moon crosses the meridian at the highest point of its trajectory above the southern horizon, while for those located south of the Tropic of Capricorn, it cuts it above the northern horizon.

phasesgets upis from heavenat the highestwest of the skygoes to bed
Evening croissantsjust after sunrise the morningjust afternoonthe afternoonjust after sunset
First quarterat noonthe afternoonat sunsetat the start of the nightin the middle of the night
Growing Gibbousthe afternoonat sunsetat the start of the nightin the middle of the nightlate night
Full moonat sunsetat the start of the nightin the middle of the nightlate nightat the Sunrise
Descending Gibbousat the start of the nightin the middle of the night late nightat the Sunrise the morning
Last quarterin the middle of the nightlate nightat the Sunrise the morningat noon
Morning croissants just before sunrisethe morningjust before noon the afternoonjust before sunset

In addition, depending on your geographic position and the time of year, Séléné will be higher or lower in the sky. Our satellite indeed follows approximately the trajectory of the Sun and the height of its various phases changes according to the season, as I indicate it in the second table, valid for the latitude of metropolitan France; this table does not take into account the inclination of the lunar orbit, it is therefore sometimes necessary to add or remove up to almost 5 ° to the values ​​indicated.

First quarterFull moonLast quarter
February-March-April70 °45 °22 °
May June July45 °22 °45 °
August-September-October22 °45 °70 °
November-December-January45 °70 °45 °

If you have an instrument and want to observe the Moon, it is obvious that the best periods change according to the phase. The higher our satellite is in the sky, the less the thickness of the atmosphere that its light must pass through and the more the images have a chance of being stable and of good quality. To simplify, we can say that, at European latitudes, the end of winter and the beginning of spring are favorable to the observation of the first quarter, while the last quarter is better placed from the end of summer to the beginning of autumn. But don’t let these indications prevent you from observing the Moon regardless of its height when a beautiful night comes!

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