Nebraska Nature January 12, 2021
Don’t Miss The 9 Best Stargazing Events That Will Light Up The Nebraska Sky In 2021
We love stargazing here in Nebraska, and there are tons of places to do just that thanks to our abundance of dark places away from city lights. If you’re looking forward to checking out some impressive celestial events this year, here are nine of the best to look forward to.
February 11: The conjunction of Venus and Jupiter
Jupiter and Venus are already visible (and fairly bright) from Earth. But on February 11, they'll come so close to one another (visually, anyway) that they'll appear to nearly touch in the sky. You may have to set your alarm a little early to catch this one, as the conjunction will be visible about 30 minutes before dawn.
April 14-30 (peaking on April 22-23): Lyrids meteor shower
Fun fact: The Lyrids are considered the oldest meteor shower and appeared in historical records stretching back more than 2,700 years. Unfortunately, this year the shower will be during a full moon, which will make it difficult to see all but the brightest of the celestial fireballs. Don't worry, though; at the shower's peak, you should be able to see up to 20 meteors per hour.
April 27: Supermoon
If you've ever seen a supermoon, you'll know why this event is worth looking up. During a supermoon, the moon appears larger and brighter than usual due to its place in the sky and proximity to Earth. Photographers, get out your cameras because this bright, seemingly gigantic moon makes for a magical subject. If you miss this one, be sure to check out the next two that will take place this year on May 26th and June 24th.
April 19-May 28 (peaking on May 6-7): Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower
Although this meteor shower is much more impressive from the southern hemisphere, we'll still be able to see a lovely display from Nebraska. This celestial show will be best viewed from the night of the 6th through the early morning of the 7th, when you'll be able to see about 10 to 20 meteors per hour.
May 26: Super blood moon partial eclipse
Whew, there are a whole lot of awesome things happening with the moon on this night. It will be at its closest point to Earth, resulting in a supermoon. The partial lunar eclipse will also make the moon appear to take on an orangey red color. While the eclipse will be total in the western U.S., the partial one is still going to be plenty impressive here in the heartland.
July 12: Conjunction of Venus and Mars
Like the "Christmas star" that occured in December and the kissing of Venus and Jupiter that will happen in February, this event is going to be visible to the naked eye (or a small telescope). It will be visible after sunset, and in order to see this display you'll want to let your eyes adjust to the dark for at least 30 minutes. So don't forget to put your phone down and just enjoy the sounds of the summer as you wait to see these "stars" align.
August 2: Saturn at opposition to the sun
Saturn will appear especially bright in the sky as it reaches the point in its orbit when it's closest to Earth. Earth will be directly between the sun and Saturn's orbit, making Saturn appear beautifully bright starting at sundown. It's expected to be a truly magical sight. If you can't catch this event, look to the night sky on August 19th when Jupiter comes into its own opposition.
August 12-13: Perseids meteor shower peaks
This is one of those stargazing events that we make sure to view every year. The summer skies are usually clear enough to let you see plenty of shooting stars, and being outdoors on an August night is rather pleasant. The faint crescent moon will set early in the evening, so the viewing should be ideal this year.
November 19: Partial lunar eclipse
The final lunar eclipse of 2021 will happen in November. It's classified as a partial eclipse, but at its maximum phase, about 95 percent of the moon will be obscured by Earth's shadow. Expect to stay up late or wake up early to see this one; the eclipse will start at 1:18 a.m. and peak at 3:02 a.m. (Central time).
This is just a partial list of watch-worthy celestial events – 2021 is expected to bring tons of interesting nighttime sights! Which one are you most looking forward to? Do you have one to add to the list? Leave a comment!