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2021 astronomy calendar: When to see full moons, planets, eclipses and meteor showers
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2021 astronomy calendar: When to see full moons, planets, eclipses and meteor showers

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Prepare for a year filled with awe-inspiring reasons to look up at the night sky.

There will be full moons, meteor showers, eclipses and planets visible in the morning and evening skies across the world in 2021.

Meteor showers

The Quadrantid meteor shower on Jan. 3 kicked off the first of 12 meteor showers across 2021.

The largest obstacle to being able to see meteor showers that are only visible from certain hemispheres — apart from your location — is the brightness of the moon. The more full the moon is, the harder it is to see meteors streak across the sky.

There is a bit of a wait until the next meteor shower, the popular Lyrids in April. The Lyrids will peak on April 22 and will be best seen in the Northern Hemisphere — but the moon will be 68% full, according to the American Meteor Society.

The Eta Aquariids follow soon after, peaking on May 5 when the moon is 38% full. This shower is best seen in the southern tropics, but will still produce a medium shower for those north of the equator.

The Delta Aquariids are also best seen from the southern tropics and will peak between July 28 and 29 when the moon is 74% full.

Interestingly, another meteor shower peaks on the same night — the Alpha Capricornids. Although this is a much weaker shower, it has been known to produce some bright fireballs during the peak. And it will be visible for those on either side of the equator.

The Perseid meteor shower, the most popular of the year, will peak between Aug. 11 and 12 in the Northern Hemisphere when the moon is only 13% full.

Here is the meteor shower schedule for the rest of the year, according to EarthSky's meteor shower outlook.

  • Oct. 8: Draconids
  • Oct. 21: Orionids
  • Nov. 4 to 5: South Taurids
  • Nov. 11 to 12: North Taurids
  • Nov. 17: Leonids
  • Dec. 13 to 14: Geminids
  • Dec. 22: Ursids
2021 astronomy calendar: When to see full moons, planets, eclipses and meteor showers

The Milky Way is seen from the Glacier Point Trailside in Yosemite National Park, California.

Full moons

Typical of a normal year, 2021 will also have 12 full moons. (Last year had 13 full moons, two of which were in October).

Here are all of the full moons occurring this year and their names, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac:

  • Jan. 28 — Wolf moon
  • Feb. 27 — Snow moon
  • March 28 — Worm moon
  • April 26 — Pink moon
  • May 26 — Flower moon
  • June 24 — Strawberry moon
  • July 23 — Buck moon
  • Aug. 22 — Sturgeon moon
  • Sept. 20 — Harvest moon
  • Oct. 20 — Hunter's moon
  • Nov. 19 — Beaver moon
  • Dec. 18 — Cold moon

Solar and lunar eclipses

This year, there will be two eclipses of the sun and two eclipses of the moon — and three of these will be visible for some in North America, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

A total eclipse of the moon will occur on May 26, best visible to those in western North America and Hawaii from 4:46 a.m. ET to 9:51 a.m. ET.

An annular eclipse of the sun will happen on June 10, visible in northern and northeastern North America from 4:12 a.m. ET to 9:11 a.m. ET. The sun won't be fully blocked by the moon, so be sure to wear eclipse glasses to safely view this event.

Nov. 19 will see a partial eclipse of the moon and skywatchers in North America and Hawaii will see it between 1 a.m. ET and 7:06 a.m. ET.

And the year ends with a total eclipse of the sun on Dec. 4. It won't be seen in North America, but those in the Falkland Islands, the southern tip of Africa, Antarctica and southeastern Australia will be able to spot it.

Visible planets

Skywatchers will have multiple opportunities to spot the planets in our sky during certain mornings and evenings throughout 2021, according to The Farmer's Almanac planetary guide.

It's possible to see most of these with the naked eye, with the exception of distant Neptune, but binoculars or a telescope will provide the best view.

Mercury will look like a bright star in the morning sky from Feb. 28 to March 20, June 27 to July 16, and Oct. 18 to Nov. 1. It will shine in the night sky from Jan. 15 to Jan. 31, May 3 to May 24, Aug. 31 to Sept. 21 and Nov. 29 to Dec. 31.

Venus, our closest neighbor in the solar system, will appear in the eastern sky on the mornings of Jan. 1 to 23 and in the western sky at dusk on the evenings of May 24 to Dec. 31. It's the second brightest object in our sky after the moon.

Mars makes its reddish appearance in the morning sky between Nov. 24 and Dec. 31 and will be visible in the evening sky between Jan. 1 and Aug. 22.

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, is the third brightest object in our sky. It will be on display in the morning sky between Feb. 17 and Aug. 19. Look for it in the evenings of Jan. 1 to 9 and Aug. 20 to Dec. 31 — but it will be at its brightest from Aug. 8 to Sept. 2.

Saturn's rings are only visible through a telescope, but the planet itself can still be seen with the naked eye on the mornings of Feb. 10 to Aug. 1 and the evenings of Jan. 1 to 6 and Aug. 2 to Dec. 31. It will be at its brightest between Aug. 1 to 4.

Binoculars or a telescope will help you spot the greenish glow of Uranus on the mornings of May 16 to Nov. 3 and the evenings of Jan. 1 to April 12 and Nov. 4 to Dec. 31 — but at its brightest between Aug. 28 to Dec. 31.

And our most distant neighbor in the solar system, Neptune will be visible through a telescope on the mornings of March 27 to Sept. 13 and the evenings of Jan. 1 to Feb. 23 and Sept. 14 to Dec. 31. It will be at its brightest between July 19 and Nov. 8.

RELATED: What is the Wolf Moon? A guide to full moon nicknames


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