Break the telescope and pull your neck out, because another year of stargazing is upon us.
The combination of two lunar eclipses, a nice summer meteor shower, and a close planetary planar unleash the stargazing calendar in 2021, which would otherwise be relatively calm.
Reducing major events, such as the historic Great Combination in late 2020 or the upcoming lunar eclipse of 2024, is still on offer in the astronomical calendar for amateur and experienced stargazers alike.
The major event in 2021 will be the Super Lunar Eclipse, which will appear above the Pacific Northwest in the early hours of May 26. The moon will not only appear big in the sky, but will turn into a red shade like the earth the shadow passes over it.
It also promises to be a good year for the Perseid meteor shower in August, which will coincide with a new moon so that the sky is dark enough to see a good show. Bathing will be at its peak on August 12 and 13, a beautiful time of year in the northwest.
And while there is no great combination to look forward to this year, there will be an intimate combination of Mars and Venus on July 13, which is a great excuse to break the telescope under the clear summer sky.
Here’s what to see when you look at the night sky in 2021:
Quadrilateral meteor shower
The early winter meteor shower will not offer a show for those in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the potential cloud cover, the moon that fell to the peak during the meteor will have a hard time seeing meteorites, which number about 25 per hour under dark skies. On 12 January it may be possible to see something near the end of the shower.
Lyrid meteor shower
The conditions would not be optimal for the peak of this year’s Lyrids meteor shower, in which the brightly swinging moon would appear in the sky. Lyrids are known for their fast and bright meteors, although they usually only number around 20 per hour. Some may appear around the start of the meteor shower on 14 April.
A “supermoon” is a term used for a full moon that is closest to the Earth, appearing larger and brighter than normal. The April supermoon will be the first of two in 2021 (there is also a third on June 24 that some may consider to be “super”).
Eta aquarid meteor shower
Best viewed from the southern tropics, the Eta aquarids typically produce 10 to 30 meteors per hour at their peak for those in the Northern Hemisphere. A crescent moon will allow for darker skies during the peak of meteor showers this year.
Supermoon total lunar eclipse
The marquee astronomical event of the year will be a total lunar eclipse that overlaps with the second “supermoon” of the year. Watch the full moon to be red as the shadow of the earth falls across it.
It is not a total solar eclipse and will not be visible from the Pacific Northwest, but the annular solar eclipse – where a small moon blocks only a portion of the Sun, creating a “ring of fire” effect – will appear in Northeast America. And part of the Midwest.
The union of Mars and Venus
Summertime stargazers will be able to see both Mars and Venus from the same telescope, as they appear closer to each other when the two planets combine. With a thin crescent moon and clear summer sky, this should be a great opportunity for staring in the Pacific Northwest.
Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower
Like the Eta aquarids, the Delta Hemisphere is best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere, producing a slight shower in the north. At its peak, a sinister Gibeon moon will likely eject meteor bodies.
Alpha makrid meteor shower
Peak on the same two nights as Delta Aquarids, Alpha Makrides will have another faint splash for the luminous Capricorn Moon. Typically, this shower is known for its luminous flames and is equally visible on both sides of the equator.
Perseid Meteor Shower
One of the best meteor showers of the year, Persids promises to be a good show this year, with a new moon a few days before the peak of the shower. Under dark skies, persids usually number 50 to 75 per hour. The clear summer sky and warm temperatures make it a very good event.
Blue moon (seasonal)
We think of a “blue moon” as the second full moon to occur within a full calendar month, but the term is also used for an additional full moon in the same season. Confusing it is The third The full moon in the season, not the extra IV, is considered a blue moon. This year the blue moon will come in the last third of summer.
Orionid meteor shower
Orionids typically produce 10 to 20 meteors per hour, although the number may increase to 75 in good years. The year does not look promising, as the full moon will be out of the majority of the show.
Leonid meteor shower
Leonids are debris from Comet 55P / Temple-Tuttle, most recently known for activities that occurred in 2001. There will be no major Leonid incident until 2099 and no good rain until 2030, although showers are still occurring. Peaks of about 15 meteors per hour. This year’s peak will be sunk almost by full moon.
Partial lunar eclipse
While not technically a total lunar eclipse, this partial eclipse will see the full 97% Earth’s shadow of the Moon. The event will be visible for the entire US, reaching maximum eclipse in the morning hours. The Moon will be near its farthest point from Earth, so it will appear slightly smaller in the sky.
Geminid Meteor Shower
The strongest meteor shower of the year comes in the last days of fall, with peaks of 120 meteors per hour. The Pacific Northwest is usually a poor place to see Geminids due to the frigid skies, and this year’s peak will be interrupted by an waxing gibbous moon. Stargazers who want to see the shower must exit a few hours before dawn, or expect to get lucky early in the shower, which will be active between December 4 and 20.
Ursid meteor shower
Pointing towards geminids and the holiday season, Ursids meteor rainfall occurs with peak activity of about five to 10 meteors per year, lasting from 17 to 26 December. Observers may be able to see meteors in the morning hours. On the peak days of December 21 and 22, however, almost a full moon can ruin your chances.