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Eta Aquarius: When to catch meteor showers

The shower lasts from April 19 to May 28, but the best time to see it is when it peaks before dawn on May 5, according to EarthSky. There may also be a sprinkle of meteors on the morning of May 6th.

A bright moon can negatively affect the visibility of meteors, but fortunately a waning crescent moon appears in the sky on both May 5 and May 6. The light from the moon should not drastically affect how well stargazers can see the shower, EarthSky said.

The Eta jellyfish will be visible in the northern and southern hemisphere, but the outlook will be better in the southern hemisphere, according to NASA.

Cloud cover can be a problem for some people in the United States in hopes of seeing meteor showers.

Around dawn on May 5, most of the United States east of the Mississippi River will see significant cloud cover, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said. Aside from some clouds along the central Rocky Mountains and northern plains, the rest of the country should have fairly clear skies, Ward added.

During peak activity, observers can expect to see meteors running at an average of 44 miles per hour, NASA said.

Viewers should see a number of light trails but few fireballs, according to the American Meteor Society. Fireballs are lighter than the average meteor and tend to last longer.
The meteors originate from Halley’s Comet, the famous comet that only appears once every 76 years, according to NASA. The last time it was seen in our sky was in 1986, and it will not appear until 2061.

More meteor showers to see

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

The Delta jellyfish are 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 that night – Alpha Capricornids. Although this is a much weaker shower, it has been known to produce some bright fireballs during its peak. It will be visible to everyone no matter which side of the equator they are on.

Perseid meteor shower, the most popular of the year, will peak between 11 and 12 August in the northern hemisphere when the moon is only 13% full.

Here’s the meteor shower schedule for the rest of the year according to EarthSky’s meteor shower outlook.
  • October 8: Draconids
  • October 21: Orionids
  • November 4 to 5: Southern Taurids
  • November 11-12: Northern Taurids
  • November 17: Leonids
  • December 13-14: Twins
  • December 22: Ursids

Full moons in 2021

Typically for a normal year there is 12 full moons in 2021. (There were 13 full moons last year, two of which were in October.)

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

May 26 – Flower Moon

June 24 – Strawberry Moon

July 23 – Buck moon

August 22 – Sturgeon moon

September 20 – Autumn Moon

October 20 – Hunter’s moon

November 19 – Beaver moon

December 18 – Cold Moon

Also, be sure to check for the other names of these moons attributed to their respective Native American tribes.

Here’s what you can look forward to in 2021.

Solar and lunar eclipses

This year there will be two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses – and three of these will be visible to some in North America, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
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A complete eclipse of the moon takes place on May 26, which is best visible to those in western North America and Hawaii from 4:46 ET to 9:51 ET.

An eclipse of the sun takes place on June 10, visible in northern and northeastern North America from 4:12 ET to 9:11 ET. The sun is not fully blocked by the moon, so be sure to wear eclipse glasses to safely watch this event.

On November 19, a partial eclipse of the moon is seen, and skywatchers in North America and Hawaii can see it between 6 p.m. 1 and at 7:06 ET.

And the year ends with a total solar eclipse on December 4th. It will not be visible in North America, but those in the Falkland Islands, the southern tip of Africa, Antarctica and southeastern Australia will be able to see it.

Visible planets

Skywatchers will have more opportunities to spot the planets in our sky during certain mornings and evenings during 2021, according to Farmer’s Almanac Planetary Guide.

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

Mercury will look like a bright star in the morning sky from June 27 to July 16 and October 18 to November 1. It shines in the night sky through May 24, August 31 to September 21 and November 29 to December 31.

Venus, our closest neighbor in the solar system, will appear in the western sky at dusk in the evening from May 24 to December 31. It is the second largest object in our sky after the moon.

Mars makes its reddish appearance in the morning sky between November 24 and December 31, and it will be visible in the evening sky through August 22.

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, is the third brightest object in our sky. It will be exhibited in the morning sky until August 19th. Look for it on the evening of August 20 to December 31 – but it will be at its brightest from August 8 to September 2.

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Saturn’s rings are only visible through a telescope, but the planet itself can still be seen with the naked eye in the morning until August 1 and in the evening from August 2 to December 31. It will be at its brightest during the first four days of August.

Binoculars or a telescope will help you spot the greenish glow of Uranus in the morning of May 16th to November 3rd and in the evening of November 4th to December 31st. It will be at its brightest between 28 August and 31 December.

And our most distant neighbor in the solar system, Neptune, will be visible through a telescope in the morning of September 13th and in the evening of September 14th to December 31st. It will be at its brightest between July 19 and November 8.

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