Eclipse of ‘blood moon’ and other astronomical events of 2021
The year that begins will offer many celestial and celebrity shows, including shocking meteor showers, solar and lunar eclipses and the grouping of four worlds. Find out here when and how to enjoy these astronomical phenomena.
Despite being an atypical year of social isolation and quarantines, the sky, that imaginary vault in which the stars move, offered shows that astonished and captivated, not only those who are passionate about astronomy, but also those in their homes they readied their telescopes and were encouraged to witness these phenomena. The astronomical calendar of the year that is ending left memorable events, such as the appearance of the bright comet NEOWISE, the shower of the shooting stars of the Geminids, the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn and a blue moon on Halloween, among others.
A large number of these amazing phenomena can also be seen in 2021. Here are some of them:
Venus-Jupiter conjunction (February 11)
The two brightest planets in our sky will do a celestial dance that will allow them to be very visible, even from a garden telescope.
The best time to see this pair will be between 20 and 30 minutes before sunrise. The inhabitants of the southern hemisphere will be able to see the event clearly because the planets will be located further from the sun.
In this phenomenon, both planets have come closer and closer to each other. Recall that these are at very different distances: Jupiter is approximately 890 million kilometers from Earth, while Saturn is 1620 million kilometers (these distances vary because the orbits of the planets are elliptical).
Four worlds come together (March 9 and 10)
Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn, accompanied by a crescent moon, will appear in near perfect alignment. In the sky, each will appear as a bright spot. Jupiter will be the brightest and Mercury the least visible.
With binoculars, those interested will be able to detect the four largest moons of Jupiter. With the telescope, observers will be able to witness the rings of Saturn.
“Moon of blood” (May 26)
In 2021 it will also be possible to witness the astronomical event that occurs when the sun, the Earth and the moon align with such precision that the shadow of the planet earth completely covers the face of the moon, thus generating a total eclipse of this natural satellite.
In the eclipse, the light does not reach the moon directly, but part of this light is filtered by the atmosphere, projecting on the satellite the reddish and orange colors, which vary according to the amount of dust present in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Perseid meteor shower (August 12 and 13)
In mid-August, the planet travels through a debris cloud that is blown off by Comet Swift-Tuttle, generating a burst of shooting stars, while at the same time small meteors burn in the upper atmosphere.
In a typical year, they can produce up to 60 shooting stars per hour. However, 2021 appears to be promising as it will present a peak of rainfall that will coincide with a dark sky and a thin crescent moon.
To observe this phenomenon, it is advisable to look for a place with little light pollution.
Total solar eclipse (December 4)
In 2021 there will be a total solar eclipse in Antarctica. In countries like Argentina, South Africa and Chile a partial eclipse may be seen. That is, one in which only part of the sun will be covered.
This astronomical phenomenon, which is rare because the alignment of the planet, the sun and the moon must be exact, occurs when the moon hides the sun, seen from planet Earth.
Since looking directly at the sun can cause permanent damage to eyesight, to observe this phenomenon it is recommended to use eye protection or indirect vision techniques.