7 Stunning Stargazing Events to Add to Your Fall Calendar

·5 min read

As Henri Poincaré, a French mathematician and theoretical physicist once wrote, "Astronomy is useful because it raises us above ourselves; it is useful because it is grand… It shows us how small is man's body, how great his mind, since his intelligence can embrace the whole of this dazzling immensity, where his body is only an obscure point, and enjoy its silent harmony."

If that's not enough inspiration to look toward the stars tonight, we don't know what is. But if you happen to need more of a reason, here are a few not-to-miss astronomy events occurring between October and December of 2021 that you should absolutely add to your fall calendar. Watching these glorious meteor showers and eclipses are guaranteed to fill you and your family with awe.

October 7: Draconids Meteor Shower

According to SeaSky, the Draconids is a minor meteor shower that produces about 10 meteors per hour. While it's not the largest meteor shower on the list, it's a great one for families with small children to enjoy because it's one of the few that's best viewed in the early evening instead of early morning hours. Keep an eye on the sky from October 6 to 10, with the peak display on October 7, thanks to a new moon.

Visible from: Best viewed from the northern hemisphere, but those in the southern hemisphere could still get a show.

Equipment you need to view it: Nothing, just find a remote and dark location to view from.

October 21, 22: Orionids Meteor Shower

For a bit heftier of a show, wait for the Orionids, which produces up to 20 meteors per hour. The meteor shower is actually grains of dust left behind by the Halley comet, which EarthSky describes as "arguably the most famous of all comets, which last visited Earth in 1986."

The annual event actually takes place between October 2 to November 7, but peaks on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22.

Visible from: Anywhere on Earth

Equipment you need to view it: Nothing, just find a remote and dark location to view from.

November 4, 5: Taurids Meteor Shower

Like the Draconids, the Taurids is not a major show, producing just five to 10 meteors per hour. However, it's a unique one to view because it's made up of two separate streams rather than one. The first, SeaSky explains, "is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke." The event will peak this year on the night of November 4 and the early morning of November 5. It may also be a good show as it's another new moon event.

Visible from: Anywhere on Earth

Equipment you need to view it: Nothing, just find a remote and dark location to view from.

November 17, 18: Leonids Meteor Shower

Like the others, the Leonids doesn't pack as big of a punch when it comes to the quantity of meteors, producing just 15 per hour at its peak—but it more than makes up for it in the quality of its meteors. According to Space.com, this annual shower is "responsible for some of the most intense meteor storms in history. Sometimes, meteors fall at rates as high as 50,000 per hour."

The shower peaks on the night of November 17 and the morning of November 18. A full moon will be hanging overhead, but you still may be able to see a few flickers as they come down.

Visible from: Best viewed from the northern hemisphere, but those in the southern hemisphere could still get a show.

Equipment you need to view it: Nothing, just find a remote and dark location to view from.

November 19: Partial Lunar Eclipse

The moon will pass through Earth's shadow on November 19, causing a partial lunar eclipse. It's an event that's slow and steady: perfect for setting out a blanket and watching the sky for as long as you can. Though, you may end up taking a nap in the middle, as the eclipse is set to last more than three hours.

Visible from: Eastern Russia, Japan, the Pacific Ocean, North America, Mexico, Central America, and parts of western South America.

Equipment you need to view it: Nothing, just find a remote and dark location to view from.

December 4: Total Solar Eclipse

The big player of astronomy events—a total solar eclipse—will take place on December 4, 2021. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves to completely block the sun. However, because of the moon's small stature compared to the sun, this event will not be visible to the entire planet. That just means you need to start planning your trip now to somewhere in its path and see it in all its glory.

Visible from: Antarctica and the southern Atlantic Ocean. According to NASA, a partial eclipse will be visible across much of South Africa. (You're likely not in Antarctica, so don't forget to look up photos of this sensational solar event after the fact.)

Equipment you need to view it: Solar eclipse glasses. Careful: Do not look at the eclipse without the right equipment.

December 13, 14: Geminids Meteor Shower

This year is going out with a bang. The Geminids Meteor Shower, which SeaSky calls "the best shower in the heavens," will take over the sky on December 13 and the morning of December 14 when it'll rain down up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. The sprinkling from the stars is actually produced by debris left behind by the 3200 Phaethon asteroid. There will be some significant light from the moon, however, SeaSky notes, the Geminids are so "numerous and bright that this could still be a good show."

Visible from: Best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, but those in the Southern Hemisphere could still get a show.

Equipment you need to view it: Nothing, just find a remote and dark location to view from.

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