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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Feb. 21, 2024

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Look skyward for these 2021 celestial events

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A new year ushers in new opportunity to gaze at the sky and beyond.

Here are celestial events in 2021:

March 20: March Equinox

Also known at the Vernal Equinox, this marks when Earth is upright on its axis, instead of tilting toward or away from the sun. This is not exactly something to observe, like the stars and moon, but it does signal change. There are two equinoxes each year marking our planet’s position and the almost evenly split day and night, according to the National Weather Service.

April 22-23: Lyrids Meteor Shower

The Lyrids is considered an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak from the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, according to the American Meteor Society Normally, this would be an opportunity to witness the bright dust trails, but the nearly full moon’s glare will complicate viewing for all but the brightest meteors.

Meteors will originate from near the Lyra constellation, but can be viewed across the sky. Best viewing will be from a dark place after midnight, according to AMS.

April 27: Full moon

This full moon is a supermoon, one of three that will happen in 2021. The moon will be nearing its closest approach to the Earth and can appear larger and brighter.

May 6-7: Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower

The Eta Aquarids is an above-average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak, produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley. However, much of the activity is best visible from the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. Again, the moon’s glare will pose some issues in seeing the more faint meteors, so a dark location after midnight is recommended.

May 26: Full moon, total lunar eclipse

This is the second of three supermoons in 2021 and it’s a total lunar eclipse. This moon is also considered a “blood moon” as it will turn red during the eclipse.

June 10: Annular solar eclipse

This solar eclipse won’t be complete, but if you happen to be in Nunavut, Canada, look to the sky. To see the path of this eclipse, visit NASA.

June 24: Full moon

This is the third and final supermoon.

Aug. 22: Full moon

This full moon is also a Blue Moon, the third of four full moons in a season. This rare calendar event only happens once every 2.7 years, according to AMS. There are normally only three full moons in each season of the year.

Sept. 20: Full moon

This is also called the Harvest Moon, a special name for the moon occurring closest to the start of fall.

Sept. 22: September equinox

Again, this marks a return to an even axis with no defining tilt toward or away from the Sun.

Nov. 18-19: Partial lunar eclipse

This lunar eclipse will be visible in Oregon, weather permitting. This eclipse will be almost complete, offering just a sliver of untouched moon.

Dec. 4: Total solar eclipse

Eclipses often come in pairs, so it’s no surprise that a solar eclipse is occurring so soon after the nearly total lunar eclipse. Unlike the great total eclipse of 2017, this solar eclipse won’t be visible in Oregon. Its trail to totality actually will happen along Antarctica this year, according to NASA.

Dec. 13-14: Geminids Meteor Shower

This is considered “the king of meteor showers,” according to AMS, offering “up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak” from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The show peaks on the night of the Dec. 13 and early morning of the Dec. 14. Moon glare presents somewhat of an issue to seeing the dimmer meteors, so best viewing is from a dark location after midnight.

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