The 10 must-see night sky events to see in 2021

Another year of skywatching is upon us, and theres a lot to look forward to in 2021!

( Image credit: Sergio Garcia Rill) These over night hours will be the prime time to watch for this, the Old Faithful of the summer sky: the Perseid meteor shower.
The very best time to view will be after the moon sets around 10 p.m. regional daytime time, leaving the remainder of the night dark for these swift streaks of light. The Perseids produce about one meteor per minute under dark country skies and sometimes will produce outstandingly intense meteors, called fireballs, or exploding meteors, called bolides.
Mid-September to end of 2021: The Venus program.

This composite image of the annular solar eclipse was taken by Koji Kudo from Kawasaki, Japan on May 21, 2012. (Image credit: Koji Kudo) Because the moon will be positioned at a distance of 251,200 miles (404,300 km) from Earth throughout this “ring of fire” solar eclipse, the lunar disk will appear rather smaller sized than the sun; 5.7% smaller sized to be precise..
As such, when the moon passes squarely in front of the sun, it will not completely cover the face of the star, but rather a ring of sunshine will remain visible. The term “annular” eclipse, derived from the Latin “annulus” indicating ring-shaped. Call it a “penny-on-nickel result” with the nickel representing the sun and the penny, the moon..
This will be a rather unusual eclipse because the path of annularity tracks in an unusual way: northeast, then north and lastly in a northwest direction, through main and northern Canada, northwest Greenland, past the North Pole and lastly ending over northeast Siberia. For those who reside in New York State, New England, in addition to southern portions of Ontario and Quebec, there will be a chance to see a most unusual sunrise today as the sun will rise looking like a crescent with cusps pointed upward. Toronto will see 86 percent of the suns diameter eclipsed, 85% in Montreal and 80% for New York and Boston. The closing stages of the eclipse will be visible from Minnesota, the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, along with the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic States..

Jupiter (left) and Saturn (ideal) are seen after sunset above Jordan Lake throughout the “great conjunction” on Dec. 21, 2020, near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Image credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA) Jupiter and Mercury are hardly above the east-southeast horizon during dawn, but this early morning theyre engaged in a really close combination, separated by just 0.35 degrees. Mercury (magnitude +0.1) will sit just to the upper left of much brighter Jupiter (magnitude -2.0); the planetary systems greatest planet conveniently outshines the tiniest by a factor of 7.
Binoculars will prove to be most helpful in making a sighting of these 2 planets versus the brilliant golden backdrop about a half hour prior to dawn..
May 5: Supermoon!

Here are the 10 most noteworthy sky occasions. A close pairing-off in between 2 brilliant planets, a nearly overall and total eclipse of the moon, a terrific year for viewing the precious Perseid meteors and an excellent autumn appearance for Venus are among the celestial highlights that will happen in the brand-new year..
Of course, Space.coms Night Sky column will offer more substantial protection of these events as they draw better..
Jan. 3: The Quadrantid meteor shower.

Related: The Most Amazing Quadrantid Meteor Shower Photos.
March 5: Jupiter and Mercury meet.

( Image credit: Brian Emfinger) At present, the Quadrantid meteor shower is probably– along with the Geminids of December– the wealthiest annual meteor screen but one of the briefest; 6 hours before and after maximum, these blue meteors appear at only a quarter their greatest rates. This year, the optimum of the shower is forecasted to take place at 1500 hours GMT..
The subsiding gibbous moon will interfere with observations. Under more beneficial conditions you might count several dozen meteors per hour. The Quadrantids radiant (from where the meteors appear to fan out) lies midway in between the head of Draco and completion of the Big Dippers manage, high in the northeast sky throughout the morning..

Need more area? You can get 5 problems of our partner “All About Space” Magazine for $5 for the current amazing news from the last frontier! (Image credit: All About Space publication).

( Image credit: ISAS/JAXA, CC BY) The most stunning of planets starts 2021 in poor style. Venus starts low in the southeastern dawn sky; sinks out of sight behind the sun in March and April. Coming back in the sundown sky, it hangs there at just moderate height– sliding southward and coming gradually nearer and better however still setting prior to the sky becomes fully dark..
In mid-September, it remains in view after golden ends and then in early November it unexpectedly vaults as if off a springboard into night prominence, achieving its greatest sparkle in early December and with excellent fanfare calling attention to itself each evening throughout the Christmas season before plunging back towards the sun early in 2022..
Nov. 19: A near-total eclipse of the moon.

Aug. 11-12: Perseid meteor shower.

A little over 9 hours later on, the moon will officially turn full (and go through an overall eclipse. Hawaiians get an excellent view with the eclipse happening high in their sky in the middle of the night. Toronto will see 86 percent of the suns size eclipsed, 85% in Montreal and 80% for New York and Boston. (Image credit: Christina Koch/NASA) North America is in an outstanding position to see this eclipse. The moon will slide through the southern part of the Earths dark umbra and at biggest eclipse all however 2.6% of the moons size will be immersed in the shadow.

( Image credit: ESO/P. Horálek/ Solar Wind Sherpas project) The last eclipse of 2021 will be noticeable just from the icy continent of Antarctica. The course of totality, averaging 265 miles (427 km) large, will sweep inland south-southwest from the Weddell Sea, passing over Berkner Island and the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, then continuing across West Antarctica, darkening the Executive Committee Range ( a range of mountains consisting of five significant volcanoes), before moving offshore at the Ross Sea.
For even the most ardent eclipse chaser, this will prove to be a tough project, although a couple of hardy souls did see the last total solar eclipse noticeable here (in 2003) from the ground, while others overflew this frozen land in business aircraft..
An associated small partial eclipse can be glimpsed from parts of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana, as well as Tasmania and southern sections of New South Wales and Victoria in Australia and a little slice of southernmost New Zealand and nearby Stewart Island.
Related: Total solar eclipse of 2020 thrills spectators in South America.
Dec. 13-14: The Geminid meteor shower.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch recorded this picture of the partial lunar eclipse of July 16-17, 2019 from the International Space Station. (Image credit: Christina Koch/NASA) North America is in an excellent position to see this eclipse. It will take place in the predawn hours with the noticeable phases ending before moonset.
The moon will move through the southern portion of the Earths dark umbra and at greatest eclipse all however 2.6% of the moons diameter will be immersed in the shadow. Since a few of the sunshine striking the Earth is diffused and scattered by our atmosphere, the Earths shadow is not entirely dark. Enough of this light reaches the moon to offer it a faint coppery glow. Combined with the staying uneclipsed yellow sliver, will create what some call the “Japanese Lantern Effect”; a noticeably gorgeous sight for the naked eye, or viewing with field glasses or a small telescope..
The really starting stages of the eclipse will show up from the United Kingdom and parts of northern Europe prior to moonset. Eastern Asia and Australia will also see it after moonrise later on that night.
Dec. 4: Total eclipse of the sun.

On this date at 10 p.m. EDT, the moon will come to its closest point to the Earth in 2011: A perigee distance of 222,022 miles (357,311 km) away. A little over 9 hours later, the moon will formally turn full (and undergo an overall eclipse. See listed below)..
The near coincidence of the moon with perigee will result in a considerably big series of low and high ocean tides. Any coastal storm at sea around this time will probably worsen seaside flooding issues. Such an extreme tide is understood as a perigean spring tide, the word spring being stemmed from the German springen– to “spring up,” not a referral to the spring season.
May 26: Total eclipse of the moon.

( Image credit: Jean Clark )The Geminid meteor shower is because of reach its 2021 peak throughout the predawn hours of Dec. 14, when 60 to 120 sluggish, stylish meteors per hour might be seen under dark sky conditions. The Geminids are amongst the extremely couple of showers that perform well even before midnight, but this year the light of a gibbous moon will hinder pre-midnight observations.
The moon will continue to be an element till it finally sets just around 3 a.m. regional time. Luckily, thats most likely the extremely best time to view given that the constellation of Gemini– from where the meteors appear to fan out– stands almost overhead.
Joe Rao works as an instructor and guest speaker at New Yorks Hayden Planetarium. He blogs about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmers Almanac and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook..

This overall lunar eclipse favors the Pacific Rim, that is, the geographical location surrounding the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Rim covers the western coasts of North America and South America, and the coasts of Australia, eastern Asia and the islands of the Pacific. Hawaiians get a terrific view with the eclipse taking place high in their sky in the middle of the night. Throughout North America, western regions will have the ability to see the overall stage and a part of the closing partial phases before moonset steps in.
Eastern regions should be content with possibly a little scallop of darkness appearing on the moons left-hand edge, or possibly only a faint shading– the outcome of the Earths penumbral shadow. The moon will pass well to the north of the center of the Earths dark umbra; the uppermost part of the moon will be only 21 miles (34 km) from its external edge.
June 10: Ring of fire annular solar eclipse.