The year's special events in the sky

 

 

Sun:   Looking at the Sun either with the unaided eye or through binoculars or a telescope is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!
PERMANENT EYE DAMAGE CAN AND PROBABLY WILL OCCUR.
Click 
here  to find out how to observe the Sun safely.

 

 

Moon Phases: 

The Moon is ideal for viewing in the week centred on the First Quarter phase, both regarding the sights presented and the most convenient time for observing (evenings). In addition, it is quite high in the sky at sunset. First Quarter in 2021 will occur on the following dates:

2021:  January 21;   February 20;   March 22;   April 20;   May 20;   May 31;   June 18;   July 17;  August 16;   September 14;   October 13;   November 11;   December 11.

 

 

Eclipses in 2021:

 

Lunar:

TOTAL, MAY 26:   The next total lunar eclipse visible from Australia will occur on this night, nicely timed to begin soon after sunset in eastern Australia and end just before midnight. From the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, the complete eclipse will run for 5 hours and 2 minutes. Here are the circumstances of the eclipse:

The Full Moon will rise above the theoretical east-south-eastern horizon at 5:00 pm;     Penumbral phase begins at 6:47 pm;     Partial phase begins at 7:45 pm;     Totality begins at 9:11 pm;     Mid-eclipse occurs at 9:18 pm;     Totality ends at 9:26 pm;     Partial phase ends at 10:52 pm;     Penumbral phase ends at 11:50 pm.    

PARTIAL, NOVEMBER 19:   As seen from Australia, this eclipse will be only partial, with no total phase, i.e. the Moon will only be partially immersed in the Earth's shadow. The Moon will rise in the east at 6:14 pm AEST with a large bite out of it already, as the eclipse started at 4:02 pm and the partial phase began at 5:21 pm. The maximum partial phase will occur at 7:03 pm, when 97.4% of the Moon will be in the Earth's shadow. Just a tiny sliver of Moon near its South Pole will not be in the Earth's main shadow or umbra.     Partial phase ends at 8:47 pm;     Penumbral phase ends at 10:04 pm.

 

Solar:

ANNULAR, JUNE 10:    No part of this eclipse of the Sun will be visible from anywhere in the southern hemisphere, as the main eclipse shadow will only pass over central Canada, the Arctic regions and parts of Siberia north of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Some partial phases will be visible from Alaska, Canada, eastern USA, the North Atlantic, Europe, Russia, central Asia, Tibet, Siberia and northern China. The best places to view the eclipse are the north-eastern tip of Ellesmere Island and the north-western tip of Greenland, at 6:45 am local time (10:45 am UTC time or (8:45 pm AEST).  Annularity will last for 3 minutes 37 seconds, centred on the times given.

TOTAL, DECEMBER 4 (AEST):    This total eclipse of the Sun will not be visible from Queensland's Sunshine Coast as it occurs when the Sun is below our horizon. Totality will begin in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica heading south, then will curve to the east, crossing the southernmost part of the Antarctic Peninsula. Continuing along its curved track, the Moon's shadow will swing north and then to the north-west, terminating just east of the Falklands Islands. No part of the eclipse path is easily accessible, being mostly over the sea or Antarctica itself. From dry land, a tiny portion of the Sun will be covered by the Moon, visible as a partial eclipse, from Victoria, Tasmania, Otago and Stewart Island in New Zealand, Terra del Fuego in Argentina and the Falkland Islands. Totality at the central point of the eclipse track at Bocharova Nunatak in Antarctica will last for 1 minute 32 seconds, centred on 7:24 am UTC (or 5:24 pm AEST).

Observers on Queensland's Sunshine Coast will not see a partial eclipse of the Sun until April 20, 2023. The next total solar eclipse visible from parts of Australia will occur at 12:56 pm on July 22, 2028, the eclipse track running from Wyndham through Alice Springs to Birdsville and then Sydney, before crossing the Tasman Sea to Dunedin in New Zealand's South Island.

 

 

 

The Planets in 2021: 

 

Mercury:        January 24:                  Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (18 34')
                                        January 29:                  Perihelion
                                        January 31:                  Eastern stationary point
                                        February 8:                  Inferior co
njunction
                                        February 21:                Western stationary point
                                        March 6:                      Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (27 16')                                       

                                        March 14:                   
Aphelion
                                        April 19:                       Superior conjunction
                                        April 27:                       Perihelion
                                        May 17:                       Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (21
54')
                                        May 30:                       Eastern stationary point
                                        June 10:                      Aphelion
                                        June 11:                      Inferior co
njunction
                                        June 23:                      Western stationary point
 
                          
             July 05:                        Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (21
21')
                                        July 24:                        Perihelion
                                        August 1:                     Superior conjunction
                                        September 6:              Aphelion
                                        September 14:            Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (26
39'
)
                                        September 27:            Eastern stationary point
                                        October 10:                 Inferior co
njunction
    
                                    October 19:                 Western stationary point
                                        October 20:                 Perihelion
                                        October 25:                 Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (18
18')
                                        November 29:             Superior conjunction
                                        December 3:               Aphelion
                                       January 7, 2022:          Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (19
12')

The best times for observing Mercury in the evening sky are:  last two weeks of January;  second week of May to end of month;  most of September. beginning of January 2022.

The best times for observing Mercury in the morning sky are:  mid-February to second week of March, last week of June to second week in July, third and fourth weeks of October.   
                                      
                                  


                              
 Venus:                February 20:                Aphelion
                                       March 26:                    Superior conjunction
                                       June 12:                      Perihelion
                                       October 3:                   Aphelion
                                       October 30:                 Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (46
56')
                                       December 19:             Eastern stationary point
                                       January 9, 2022:          Inferior conjunction
                                      
                                                                                                           
From January to the end of April, Venus will be close to the Sun and hard to detect. It will reappear in the western twilight sky during June, and from July on will dominate the western twilight sky as an 'Evening Star'. In August it will appear as a little 'gibbous Moon' with a phase of 82% and a diameter of 13 arcseconds. At the end of March it will appear like a small 'half-Moon' with a phase of 50%, but its diameter will have increased to 24 arcseconds. By the beginning of May its phase will have reduced to 24% (like a crescent Moon), but as its angular size will have increased to 39 arcseconds, its brightness will remain unchanged at magnitude -4.5.  Venus will pass through inferior conjunction (between the Earth and the Sun) on June 4, and will therefore move from the evening sky to the pre-dawn sky. Whereas on very rare occasions Venus will pass in front of the Sun at such times (a 'transit of Venus'), on this occasion Venus will pass 14 arcminutes north of the Sun's limb (edge). In the morning sky, Venus will appear as a crescent during July, and as a 'half-Moon' in mid-August. Towards the end of the year it will have shrunk in size and increased in phase until it appears as a tiny 'Full Moon'. Venus will become visible in the western evening sky in May 2021.

         early July 2020                     mid-August 2020                      March 2021                      October 2021                       December 2021        

    
 

 

Mars:                     February 1:                   Eastern quadrature         (angular diameter =  7.8")
                                       July 13:                          Aphelion           (angular diameter =  3.8")
                                       October 8:                     Conjunction     (angular diameter =  3.6")
                                       December 8, 2022        Opposition       (angular diameter =  17.0")
                                      

For all of 2021, Mars will be on the far side of its orbit, and therefore will appear quite small, less than 6 arcseconds in diameter.

 

 

Jupiter:                 January 29:                 Conjunction
                                       
May 22:                       Western quadrature
                                    
    June 21:                      Western stationary point
                                       August 20:                    Opposition (Jupiter rises in the east at sunset)
                                       October 18:                  Eastern stationary point
                          
            November 16:              Eastern quadrature
                                       March 6, 2022:             Co
njunction 
                                                                     
The giant planet begins 2021 in the constellation of Capricornus, the Sea-goat, but crosses Aquarius. the Water-bearer on ???????

 

 

Saturn:                January 24:                   Conjunction
                                     
May 3:                            Western quadrature
                                      May 23
:                          Western stationary point
                                      August 2:                       Opposition
                                      October 11:                   Eastern stationary point
                                      October 30:                   Eastern quadrature
                                      February 5, 2022:          Conjunction
                                  

Saturn will spend all of 2021 in the constellation of Capricornus.

 

 

 

Uranus:               January 14:                  Eastern stationary point
                                      January 26:                  Eastern quadrature
                                      May 1:                          Conjunction
                                      August 7:                      Western quadrature
                                      August 20:                    Western stationary point
                                      November 5:                Opposition
                                      January 18, 2022:        Eastern stationary point
                                      January 31, 2022:        Eastern quadrature

Uranus will spend 2021 in the constellation of Aries, where it will remain until it enters Taurus on May 17, 2024.

 

 

Neptune:            March 11:                    Conjunction
                                       June 14:                       Western quadrature
                                       June 25:                       Western stationary point
                                       September 14:             Opposition
                                       December 1:                Eastern stationary point
                                       December 12:              Eastern quadrature
                                       March 13, 2021:           Conjunction

Neptune spends the whole of 2021 in Aquarius, near the eastern boundary with Pisces. It will remain in Aquarius until April 21, 2022.

 

 

Pluto:                     January 15:                 Conjunction
                                  
   April 16:                       Western quadrature
                                      April 28:                       Western stationary point
                                      July 18:                        Opposition
                                      October 6:                   Eastern stationary point
                                      October 17:                 Eastern quadrature
                                      January 17, 2022:       Conjunction

Pluto spends all of 2021 in Sagittarius.  It will not move out of this constellation until  March 1, 2023.

 

 

 

Meteor Showers:

 

    January 4:               Quadrantids
    February 8:              Alpha-Centaurids
    April 22:                   Lyrids
    April 24:                   Pi-Puppids
    May 4:                     Alpha Scorpids
    May 5:                     Eta Aquarids (from Comet Halley)
    June 8:                    Arietids
    June 10:                  Zeta Perseids
    June 29:                  Beta Taurids
    July 10:                   Pegasids
    July 29:                   S Delta-Aquarids
    July 30:                   Alpha-Capricornids
    August 13:              Perseids (from Comet Swift-Tuttle)
    September 1:         Alpha-Aurigids
    October 22:            Orionids (from Comet Halley)
    November 3:           S Taurids (from Comet Encke)
    November 13:         N Taurids (from Comet Encke)
    November 18:         Leonids (from Comet Tempel-Tuttle)
    December 7:          Phoenicids
    December 14:        Geminids (from Comet Phaethon)
    December 24:        Ursids


The 3.9 metre Anglo-Australian Telescope near Coonabarabran, NSW

 

 

 

The main Constellations visible at about 8.00 pm each month, from the horizon to the zenith:          

 

January:

        East:          Hydra, Canis Minor, Canis Major, Puppis
        South:       Crux, Musca, Carina, Vela, Pavo
        West:         Aquarius, Capricornus, Pisces, Grus, Piscis Austrinus, Phoenix, Cetus, Eridanus
        North:        Aries, Perseus, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, Orion

 

February:

        East:          Leo, Crater, Corvus, Hydra, Canis Major, Puppis
        South:       Grus, Centaurus, Crux, Musca, Carina, Vela
        West:         Cetus, Eridanus, Aries
        North:        Auriga, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Orion

 

March:

        East:          Virgo, Libra, Lupus, Centaurus, Corvus, Crater, Hydra, Crux, Musca, Vela
        South:       Triangulum Australe, Toucan, Carina, Puppis
        West:         Phoenix, Cetus, Eridanus, Taurus, Orion, Canis Major
        North:        Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Canis Minor

 

April:

        East:          Bootes, Libra, Scorpius, Virgo, Centaurus, Lupus, Ara, Crux, Musca, Corvus
        South:       Triangulum Australe, Pavo, Carina, Vela
        West:         Eridanus, Orion, Gemini, Canis Minor, Canis Major, Puppis
        North:        Cancer, Ursa Major, Leo, Crater, Hydra

 

May:

        East:          Corona Borealis, Serpens, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpius, Ara, Lupus, Centaurus
        South:        Indus, Pavo, Triangulum Australe, Crux, Musca, Carina
        West:         Canis Major, Canis Minor, Cancer, Puppis, Hydra
        North:        Ursa Major, Leo, Coma Berenices,Bootes, Virgo, Crater, Corvus

 

June:

        East:          Ophiuchus, Capricornus, Sagittarius, Scorpius
        South:        Pavo, Triangulum Australe, Ara, Lupus, Crux, Musca
        West:         Hydra, Leo, Carina, Vela, Puppis, Crater, Corvus
        North:        Coma Berenices, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Virgo, Serpens, Libra

 

July:

        East:          Aquarius, Delphinus, Grus, Capricornus, Aquila, Sagittarius, Scorpius
        South:       Carina, Musca, Crux, Ara, Triangulum Australe, Centaurus
        West:         Hydra, Crater, Corvus, Virgo, Vela, Libra
        North:        Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Lyra, Ophiuchus, Serpens

 

August:

        East:          Aquarius, Phoenix, Piscis Austrinus, Grus, Sagittarius
        South:       Eridanus, Musca, Crux, Triangulum Australe
        West:         Corvus, Virgo, Bootes, Libra, Centaurus, Ara, Lupus, Scorpius
        North:        Corona Borealis, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus, Delphinus, Aquila

 

September:

        East:          Pisces, Cetus, Eridanus, Phoenix, Piscis Austrinus, Grus, Aquarius, Capricornus
        South:       Crux, Musca, Triangulum Australe, Pavo
        West:         Centaurus, Libra, Serpens, Ophiuchus, Scorpius, Lupus, Ara
        North:         Lyra, Cygnus, Pegasus, Delphinus, Aquila

 

October:

        East:           Eridanus, Cetus, Aries, Piscis Austrinus
        South:        Hydrus, Centaurus, Musca, Triangulum Australe, Ara, Pavo, Grus
        West:          Lupus, Scorpius, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, Aquila, Capricornus
        North:         Cygnus, Delphinus, Pegasus, Andromeda, Aquarius

 

November:

        East:           Taurus, Eridanus, Cetus, Phoenix
        South:        Carina, Musca, Triangulum Australe, Pavo
        West:          Scorpius, Sagittarius, Aquila, Delphinus, Capricornus, Grus, Piscis Austrinus
        North:         Pegasus, Andromeda, Aries, Pisces, Cetus, Aquarius

 

December:

        East:           Taurus, Orion, Canis Major, Puppis, Carina, Eridanus
        South:        Carina, Musca, Pavo
        West:          Capricornus, Aquarius, Grus, Piscis Austrinus, Phoenix
        North:         Pegasus, Andromeda, Aries, Perseus, Cetus

 

 

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