CINCINNATI – In 2020, backyard star-watchers are treated to a surprise guest at Comet NEOWISE and the full moon on Halloween night.
Astronomers in Patagonia marveled at a total solar eclipse, and the planets Jupiter and Saturn had come together once in a lifetime. coupling.
What does the sky hold for 2021? Mark it on your calendar, because the first event of the year is less than two weeks away. Venus will appear next to the moon on January 11 as it travels behind the sun. Two lunar eclipses are also expected in 2021, one in the spring and one in the fall. And the Perseids meteor shower will again light the sky in August.
Here are the astronomical events of this year that cannot be missed:
The moon is passing by
If you see a bright star next to the moon at night, it is likely a planet. Just before sunrise on January 11th, face southeast and just above the horizon, you’ll see a slender crescent to the right of dazzling Venus.
Then the flower slowly makes its way behind the sun and becomes invisible for several months. It will appear in the evening sky at the end of May and will shine like the brightest star-like object throughout summer and fall.
January 20 and 21, it will be Mars’ turn. The red planet will pass the first quarter of the moon each of those nights. Our two largest planets receive a guest in the morning sky when the moon rises to Saturn on April 6 and Jupiter on April 7.
Planets of love and war
In July, Venus and Mars will appear very close to each other in the sky.
On July 11, just after sunset, Mars, Venus and the Moon will line up. On July 12 and 13, the planets of love and war will be only half a degree away. You might be able to see both planets at the same time with a small telescope.
Mercury, a planet that is always difficult to find because it seldom shifts away from the glare of the sun, will look better after sunset in May. The season for viewing Mercury begins on May 13 when it is near the moon and ends on May 28 after close association with Venus.
Two lunar eclipses
One of the most spectacular astronomical events to witness is the total lunar eclipse – the moon enters Earth’s shadow and can transform all shades of frightening orange and red.
On the morning of May 26, there will be a lunar eclipse, but what you see depends on where you live. In the Midwest, an eclipse will begin exactly as the moon sets, so you will only see a partial eclipse. The East Coast will be largely absent from everything. The more west you live, the more you will see. People who live in the mountainous time zone will see most of it, while residents of the West Coast will experience a total eclipse.
On November 19, the moon will enter Earth’s shadow for the second time in 2021. Although this will not be a total lunar eclipse, at its peak, more than 97% of the moon will be blocked. The moon could get dark enough that you would see a little pink glow on one side of the moon’s surface that morning. The best thing is that this partial lunar eclipse will be visible throughout the United States.
Little Eclipse and the best meteor shower
On June 10, the moon will block out part of the sun in what is called an annular solar eclipse. It can be seen better than northern Canada, but states between Minnesota and Virginia and most of the northeastern United States may be able to see a fraction of the sun counted that day.
Perhaps the best meteor showers of the year are the Perseids River, which will peak on August 12 and 13. The Pershawi meteor shower occurs every year, and with the moon largely out, you might see 10 to 20 meteors in a row. Heaven in the hour.
Dean Regas is an astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory and author of the books “100 Things to See in the Night Sky” and “Facts From Space!” He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This article originally appeared on the Cincinnati Inquirer: Space events for 2021 include lunar eclipses and meteor showers