Astronomy Events during Fall 2021 Through August 2022

Venturing out to observe the wonders of the night sky is a fun way to educate your family and yourself about the amazing space events that take place every month. Pick a dark sky location, look at a star/ planet map (many star apps are available for your phone) and begin to experience meteors, eclipses, supermoons or search for fantastic Milky Way views. The possibilities are endless.

You won’t see these magical events if you don’t know when they happen, so we’ve listed a few major events for the upcoming season. You may also consult any number of websites, including https://earthsky.org/, https://www.space.com/ and https://www.timeanddate.com/ for more specific information.

  • The Hunter’s Moon

When: On Oct. 20, 2021, the full moon is the Hunter’s Moon. It’s a characteristic of the Hunter’s Moon to rise around the time of sunset for several evenings in a row, as if this month has more than one full moon.

  • Beaver Moon Lunar Eclipse

When: Nov. 18/19, keep your eye out for the Beaver Moon lunar eclipse 2021. This will be the longest partial lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years. More info: https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/mesa

  • Quadrantids Meteor Shower

When: On Jan. 3 and 4th, this above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour, is at its peak. It is thought to be produced by dust grains left behind by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003.

  • Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation

When: On Feb. 16 the planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 26.3 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

  • March Equinox

When: The March equinox occurs at 15:24 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • Lyrids Meteor Shower

When:  On April 22, 23, the Lyrids Meteor Shower occurs. It is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25. It peaks this year on the night of the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The waning gibbous moon may block some of the fainter meteors this year, but there is still potential for a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • Partial Solar Eclipse

When:  A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers only a part of the Sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun’s reflection. This partial eclipse will be visible throughout most of the southeast Pacific Ocean and southern South America. It will be best seen from Argentina with 53% coverage.

  • Eta Aquarids

When: The Eta Aquarids is an above average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has been observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. It peaks this year on the night of May 6 and the morning of the May 7. The waxing crescent moon will set early in the evening, leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

      7.   Total Lunar Eclipse

When: May 16 is a Total Lunar Eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout all of North America, Greenland, the Atlantic Ocean, and parts of western Europe and western Africa.

     8. Delta Aquarids

When: On July 28, 29, the Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by comets Marsden and Kracht. The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23. It peaks this year on the night of July 28 and morning of July 29. This is a great year for this shower because the new moon means dark skies for what should be an excellent. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

     9.  Perseids Meteor Shower

When: Aug. 12 and 13. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. The Perseids are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. It peaks this year on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13.

Visit Arizona State Parks & Trails for a list of Upcoming Star Party Astronomy Events in Arizona.

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