Did you know, there is an astronomy day? Even more, this worldwide event is celebrated twice a year!
International Astronomy Day occurs every fall and spring. This year it falls on the 15th of May and the 9th of October 2021.
The event was formed to acknowledge all the contributors to astronomy and to increase general public awareness about space and the universe we live in. Usually, museums, observatories, and local astronomical societies organise and sponsor presentations, workshops, and viewing sessions for visitors. Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year most likely it won’t happen. However, you still can go outside to your garden or nearest park, somewhere outside the city, and just look up. Look up at the sky on that day and remind yourself once again that there is a whole universe out there, of which we still don’t know so much.
If there won’t be any restrictions on domestic or international travel, you can go even beyond local parks. Here is an article from The Guardian from 4 years ago, showcasing the best places to stargaze in the UK.
An interactive and detailed flip-booklet by TelescopeGuide.org showcasing “Best things to see in the Night Sky” is worth the read, as it will help you plan ahead for all of the best stargazing and astronomical events occurring before the end of 2022. Have a look, its Free!
Apart from international astronomy day, there are other events happening in 2021 worth acknowledging. If you are searching for “astronomy events near me” or “what astronomy event is happening tonight”, you are in the right place.
The first full moon will appear this year on the 28th of January. It is called the “Wolf Moon” from Native Americans, as hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps on that day. It is also a reminder that centuries ago, the civilisation before us invented the first-ever calendar without any technology, looking only at the moon phases. And it was quite accurate to the modern one, just 11 days apart.
Very early in the morning, just before the sunrise, you will be able to see with your telescope Jupiter and Venus as 2 dots, very close to each other. It is possible to view them only before sunrise, as they will appear next to the rising sun. There is also a chance to see this wonder with your naked eye. But one thing is certain, you will need a good observation spot.
As a note, these two planets will be close to each other only to our eye. In reality, they are millions of miles away.
In the same scenario, you will be able to see Jupiter with Mercury now as two dots in the sky. Due to the size of the Mercury, it might not be easy to spot it with the naked eye, so look for Jupiter first and then the mercury will be nearby. Once again, this phenomenon can only be visible around 1h before sunrise. After the sun is up, the burning light won’t give you a chance to look at anything.
Yes, you read it correctly. A perfect opportunity to witness the meteor shower late at night, outside the city’s skyline. This event happens every year around April time and first was discovered by Chinese astronomers in 687 B.C. Did you know that?
The Supermoon happens only 3 times a year. It is the time when the moon appears to be larger than usual as it will be near its closest approach to the Earth. The other dates when you can spot this happening are May 26 and June 24.
To the western world, this is probably the most memorable and special event of all. The Red Moon will be visible across the United States with the naked eye, when the Earth shadow will fall on the moon, creating a total lunar eclipse. A once a year phenomenon will occur at night between 2 am-4 am. The moon will be totally red for the whole 15 minutes, starting at around 3:10 am. The eclipse will be also visible to some parts of Eastern Asia, Japan, and Australia.
This time the Moon’s shadow will fall on earth by covering the sun, but not completely, hence the name “Ring of Fire” comes from. Russia will see this event the most around 11:30 am. Europe will see only a partial eclipse. Please note, that if you are planning to see this eclipse, make sure to have the proper eyewear! Otherwise, you will permanently damage your eyes by looking directly at the sun.
Second best annual meteor shower, with at least 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Perfect time to go camping somewhere with little or no light during the night. There will be no moon at this time, so you will be able to see even the smallest subdued ones. All you will need is a clear sky.
The second lunar eclipse of the year. Same as the first one, but this time Earth’s shadow will only partially cover the Moon (90%), leaving the rest (10%) untouched. The United States, Eastern Asia, Japan, and Australia will be able to see this happening from 2:00 am – 4:00 am.
The most spectacular and definitely the best meteor shower of all, with at least 120 multicolour meteors per hour. If you missed one in April, you should definitely pencil this one down in your diary. The shower will be filled with green fireballs, caused by an asteroid called 32 Phaethon in 1983. You don’t need any special equipment to see this event, just a clear dark sky. Find a good viewpoint away from the city, bring a thick blanket or a chair. Lie down on the ground, give 10-15 minutes for your eyes to get used to the dark, and enjoy! It could be a waiting game at first but not for long. Also, it may be cold during the night so dress up.
“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” – Thomas Edison
A great event isn’t luck or timing. An event is great when you spend countless hours planning it. So make a note of these celestial events this year 2021, share it, plan your holiday and create a memory for your friends and family that will last a lifetime. Don’t waste your life looking down, there is a whole universe out there, just look up at the sky.
Just in case you still didn’t know or somehow got confused:
Astronomy – is a science that studies celestial objects, space, and the universe as a whole.
Astrology – a belief that somehow the positioning of stars has an influence on people.
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