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While the moon’s brightness may have obscured April Lyrid’s meteor shower, stargazers will have another opportunity to spot meteors with the upcoming Eta Aquariids meteor shower, peaking at around 12 a.m. ET on May 5, according to American Meteor Society predictions.
Predictions of the peak vary, however, and the shower still should be visible in the hours before dawn on May 4, 5 and 6, 2022, according to EarthSky.
The Eta Aquariids, named after the Aquarius constellation, derive from the debris of Halley’s Comet, the well-known comet that is visible from earth every 76 years, according to NASA. The last time the comet was spotted in our sky was in 1986, and it won’t appear again until 2061.
While the Eta Aquariids are visible from both the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere, they are best viewed in the Southern Hemisphere where the meteors will rise the highest in the night sky, according to NASA.
In the northern hemisphere, the meteors will appear lower in the sky as “earthgrazers,” meaning they will skim the Earth’s horizon, according to NASA.
The Eta Aquariids are known for how fast they travel, which can reach a rate of 148,000 miles per hour, according to NASA. The meteors will produce glowing “trains” that remain in the sky for several seconds after the meteor has streaked through the sky.
The shower will remain active until May 27.
More meteor showers to see
The Delta Aquariids 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 on the same night – the 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 for everyone, regardless of which side of the equator they are on.
The Perseid meteor shower, the most popular of the year, will peak between August 11 and 12 in the Northern Hemisphere, when the moon is only 13% full.
Here is 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: South Taurids
- November 11 to 12: North Taurids
- November 17: Leonids
- December 13 to 14: Geminids
- December 22: Ursids
Full moons in 2021
Be sure to check for the other names of these moons as well, attributed to their respective Native American tribes.
Definitions of a supermoon can vary, but the term generally denotes a full moon that is brighter and closer to Earth than normal and thus appears larger in the night sky.
Some astronomers say that the phenomenon occurs when the moon is within 90% of perigee – which is its closest approach to Earth in orbit. By that definition, the full moon for June as well as the one in July will be considered supermoon events.
Here is a list of the remaining moons this year, according to the Farmers’ Almanac:
- May 16: Flower moon
- June 14: Strawberry moon
- July 13: Buck moon
- August 11: Sturgeon moon
- September 10: Harvest moon
- October 9: Hunter’s moon
- November 8: Beaver moon
- December 7: Cold moon
Solar and lunar eclipses
And the year will end with a total eclipse of the sun on December 4. It won’t be visible in North America, but those in the Falkland Islands, the southern tip of Africa, Antarctica and southeastern Australia will be able to spot it.
Partial solar eclipses occur when the moon passes in front of the sun but only blocks some of its light. Be sure to wear proper eclipse glasses to safely view solar eclipses, as the sun’s light can be damaging to the eye.
There will also be two total lunar eclipses in 2022.
A total lunar eclipse will be visible to those in Europe, Africa, South America and North America (except for those in northwestern regions) between 9:31 p.m. ET on May 15 and 2:52 a.m. ET on May 16.
Another total lunar eclipse will also be on display for those in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America and North America on November 8 between 3:01 a.m. ET and 8:58 a.m. ET – but the moon will be setting for those in eastern regions of North America.
A lunar eclipse can occur only during a full moon when the sun, Earth and moon align, and the moon passes into Earth’s shadow. Earth casts two shadows on the moon during the eclipse. The penumbra is the partial outer shadow, and the umbra is the full, dark shadow.
When the full moon moves into Earth’s shadow, it darkens, but it won’t disappear. Sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere lights the moon in a dramatic fashion, turning it red – which is why this event is often referred to as a “blood moon.”
Depending on the weather conditions in your area, the moon may appear rusty, brick-colored or blood red.
This color variability happens because blue light undergoes stronger atmospheric scattering, so red light will be the most dominant color highlighted as sunlight passes through our atmosphere and casts it onto the moon.