I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of 202o. 2021 will be better. I’ve compiled a list of the top 12 astronomy events in 2021!
From meteor showers to lunar eclipses and solar eclipses, with chances to see Mercury in the horizon and Saturn at opposition, these astronomical events ARE happening, no matter what’s going on with us humans. They’ll be spectacular, and require nothing but a clear sky.
STEM AT HOME ACTIVITES
So let’s get outside with our significant others, kids, grandkids, tell our students, friends, and neighbors. STEM AT HOME activity ala top 12 astronomy events for 2021, here we come!
# 1 : QUADRANTIDS METEOR SHOWER on JANUARY 3-4, 2021
Meteors are what create a ‘shooting star,’ leaving lovely streaks of light in the sky. Meteors are not stars: they are pieces of rock, floating in space. They burn up if they happen to enter the earth’s atmosphere. Let’s try to see a few in 2021!
# 2 :PLANET MERCURY VISIBLE on MARCH 6
The planet Mercury is often cited as the most difficult of the five brightest naked-eye planets to see! I agree. This isn’t because Mercury isn’t bright. It’s because Mercury orbits so close to our sun. That means we need to catch Mercury low in the sky, as the sun sets.
In order to see the overwhelming majority of astronomical objects, you not only need the Sun to set, you need dark skies! This seems so obvious but it's one reason why Mercury is hard to spot!
I’ve had difficulty sighting Mercury due to the fact that I live in a higher latitude, have issues with a crowded horizon, or the darn clouds! 2021 is my year. I’m determined to see Mercury again. Join me!
#3 & # 4- SUPERMOON X TWO on APRIL 27 & MAY 26
# 5- TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE on MAY 26, 2021 (MAY 26 AGAIN!)
May 26, 2021 is a big day for astronomical events! If you think about it, this makes sense, since we need a full moon for an eclipse. We don’t need a perigee aka supermoon though, even though that’s exactly what we’ll have on May 26.
What is a total lunar eclipse? And why is it called a blood moon?
Unlike solar eclipses, which require special glasses to view and can only be seen for a few short minutes in a limited area, a total lunar eclipse can be seen for an hour or more by anyone on the nighttime side of Earth.
My fingers are crossed for clear skies!
TAKE AWAY : Go outside after dark on the evening of May 26!
Here’s an eclipse look-up link for the total lunar eclipse. Just type your city in the box near the top of the page. The data will give you the best viewing times for your area. Add to your google calendar.
#6- ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE on JUNE 10
Solar Eclipses occur when the shadow of the moon blocks the sun. In this photo, the moon is passing between the sun and the earth. (see below)
A ring of light shows around the Sun during an annular eclipse, because the moon is too far away to completely cover the Sun. (I said it twice in case you skipped the slides…)
An annular solar eclipse is still extremely cool! Yes, I’m geeked.
#7- THE LAST SUPERMOON OF 2021 on JUNE 24
#8- SATURN AT OPPOSITION on AUGUST 2
Let’s start with what opposition means!
Planets at opposition are bright, partly because it’s around then that they are closest to us. (Do you remember what that term is? Yes! Perigee.)
Also, at opposition, an outer planet’s fully lighted face, or day side, faces us most directly. As a result, it appears fully illuminated by the Sun.
# 9-PERSEIDS METEOR SHOWER on AUGUST 12-13
This is my favorite meteor shower! It produces 60-100 meteors per hour. The Geminids (see below #12) are the king of the meteor showers, but the Perseids are the brightest. (Faster=brighter)
Plus, I love being outside on a summer night so the Perseids get my vote!
# 10- PARTIAL LUNAR ECLIPSE on NOVEMBER 19
I love lunar eclipses because we can just stare and stare at the moon and not worry about burning our eyes out, the way we do with solar eclipses!
The chart on the right will show you if you’re able to see this astronomical event. Many of you will! (Including me! Hurrah!)
# 11- TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE on DECEMBER 4
Remember that lunar and solar eclipses follow each other about 2 weeks apart. And some years have no eclipses so I’m including all four in our top 12 astronomy events in 2021.
Since this is a total eclipse, the moon completely blocks the Sun! At totality, the fortunate few in its path will see the corona!
Take heart. If you’re missing this one –I sure am– there is a total solar eclipse crossing much more populated areas on April 8, 2024! Hurrah!
#12- GEMINIDS METEOR SHOWER on DECEMBER 13-14, 2021
I’m writing this BEFORE the 2020 Geminids so this feels a little weird. The Geminids are the king of the meteor showers!
TAKE AWAY : Go outside after midnight with comfy clothes and look up.
Fun coincidence! The 2020 Geminids are also on December 13-14!
But you can try anytime between Dec. 7-17! The Geminids have a less stringent viewing time than the Quadrantids. Click to add to your google calendar.