2021 Stargazing Guide and Astronomical Calendar

Planet sightings, supermoons, eclipses, and meteor showers—stargazing is arguably one of the best parts of spending time outside. This is especially true after a long day of exploring, when you can take the time to lay out for an evening under the dark night sky. Whether you’re big into astrophotography or just like to take the time to feel small in our big universe, use this stargazing calendar and our dark skies map to plan your next night under the stars.

Emoji Key
🌑: New moon | 🌕: Full moon | ☄️: Meteor shower | 🪐: Planet sighting | 🔴 : Solar or lunar eclipse

January

☄️ Sat. & Sun. January 2–3 | Quadrantid Meteor Shower: This above-average meteor shower can showcase up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak. This year, the Quadrantids peak on the night of the second, with the best viewing after midnight. Stargazers should camp out in a dark spot to avoid light pollution and be patient!

🌑 Sat. January 12 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find Hipcamps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Orion, Taurus and Pleiades, Lepus
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Dorado, Pictor, Reticulum

🪐 Sun. January 24 | Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation: This is the best time to get a good look at Mercury all year! You should be able to see it low in the sky right after the sun goes down.

🌕 Thurs. January 28 | Full Moon (aka the Wolf Moon): Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It might be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

Photo by Natalia Martinez

February

🌑 Thurs. February 11 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find Hipcamps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Gemini, Auriga, Monoceros
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Orion, Sirius within Canis Major, Puppis

🌕 Sat. February 27 | Full Moon (aka the Snow Moon), Supermoon: This date brings the first supermoon of the year, which means It will appear slightly larger in the sky. Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

March

🪐 Fri. March 5 | Jupiter-Mercury Conjunction: About an hour before sunrise, Jupiter and Mercury will buddy up, appearing extremely close. Jupiter will be bright and easiest to see, and Mercury will be found just to the upper left. Both can be seen with the naked eye, but you can try out a pair of binoculars for more magnification.

🌑 Sat. March 13 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe bright stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find Hipcamps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Ursa Major and the Big Dipper, Cancer
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Volans, Carina, Vela

🌷🍂 Saturday, March 20 | March Equinox: In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the first day of spring, and in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the first day of fall.

🌕 Sun. March 28 | Full Moon (aka the Worm Moon): Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

Photo by Brendan Simpson

April

April is Global Astronomy Month!

🌑 Mon. April 12 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe star clusters and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Ursa Major, Leo, Leo’s Minor
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Chameleon, Hydra, Sextans

☄️ Thurs. & Fri. April 22–23 | Lyrid Meteor Shower: Producing 20 shooting stars per hour, the Lyrids are unique thanks to easier-to-spot meteors that leave long dust trails lasting several seconds.

🌕 Tues. April 27 | Full Moon (aka the Pink Moon), Supermoon: This supermoon will appear slightly larger in the sky. Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

May

☄️ Wed. & Thurs. May 5–6 | Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower: Producing up to 50 meteors per hour at its peak and timed nicely before the new moon, the Eta Aquarids are one of this year’s best showers. The shooting stars are produced by dust particles from Halley’s Comet—escape the city for a glimpse!

🌑 Tues. May 11 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe the brightest stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Virgo
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Virgo, Musca, Centaurus

🌕 Tues. May 25 | Full Moon (aka the Flower Moon), Supermoon: This supermoon will appear slightly larger in the sky. Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

🔴 Wed. May 26 | Total Lunar Eclipse: More common than a total solar eclipse but still fairly rare, total lunar eclipses occur when Earth sits between the sun and the full moon, blocking the sun’s rays from lighting up the moon. Earth’s shadow will completely cover the moon, a sight that will be visible in most of Australia, New Zealand, and parts of the Western U.S. Totality will only last about 15 minutes at around 4:19am PDT // 11:19pm AEDT.

Photo by Michelle Park

June

🌑 Thurs. June 10 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find Hipcamps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Hercules, Boötes
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Libra, Lupus

🔴 Thurs. June 10 | Northern Hemisphere: Annular Solar Eclipse: A “ring of fire” solar eclipse, this phenomena takes place when the moon passes right in front of the sun but doesn’t completely block it out, leaving a glowing ring around the edges. Only those in Greenland, Russia, and parts of northern Canada will see the full ring, while some parts of eastern Canada and the northeast U.S. (including the Toronto, Montreal, New York, and Boston areas) will see a partial eclipse around sunrise. Important: Never look directly into the sun without protection like eclipse glasses, even during a partial eclipse!

☀️❄️ Mon. June 21 | June Solstice: In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the longest day of the year and the start of summer, and in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the shortest day of the year and the start of winter. This is due to the North Pole tilting away from the sun, and the South Pole tilting toward it.

🌕 Thurs. June 24 | Full Moon (aka the Strawberry Moon): Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

July

🌑 Sat. July 10 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Sagittarius, Hercules, Draco
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Scorpius, Ara, Ophiuchus

🌕 Sat. July 24 | Full Moon (aka the Buck Moon): Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

☄️ Wed. & Thurs. July 28–29 | Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower: The Delta Aquarids are fairly minor, and conditions are especially poor due to the peak taking place so close to the full moon. This is still a great time for a camping trip, but you aren’t likely to see many meteors. Find Hipcamps under dark skies.

Photo by Ezequiel Gonzalez

August

🪐 Sun. August 1 | Saturn at Opposition: This is the one time of year when the sun and Saturn are in opposite directions, meaning the ringed planet is closer to Earth and appears about 40% larger than usual. This is a great one to see through a telescope.

🌑 Sun. August 8 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Lyra, Sagitta, Aquila
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Sagittarius, Corona Australis, Pavo

☄️ Wed. & Thurs, Aug 11–12 | Perseid Meteor Shower: The Perseids are one of the best meteor showers of the year! Wait until it’s dark out, and you can see up to 60 shooting stars per hour (that’s one per minute!) during this midweek show. Find camps under dark skies.

🪐 Thurs. August 19 | Jupiter at Opposition: This is the one time of year when the sun and Jupiter are in opposite directions, meaning the planet is closer to Earth and appears about 70% larger than usual. Jupiter will appear after sunset and remain visible all night.

🌕 Sun. August 22 | Full Moon (aka the Sturgeon Moon): Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

Photo by Rachel Veale

September

🌑 Tues. September 7 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find Hipcamps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Delphinus, Vulpecula, Cygnus
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Capricornus, Indus, Microscopium

🪐 Mid-September | Venus Returns: After spending much of 2021 out of view, too low in the sky, Venus returns to show its face in mid-September, popping up just after twilight and becoming very bright in November. By the time 2022 rolls around, it’ll be gone again.

🌕 Mon. September 20 | Full Moon (aka the Harvest Moon): Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

🍂🌷 Wed. September 22 | September Equinox: In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the first day of fall, and in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the first day of spring.

October

🌑 Wed. October 6 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Pegasus, Lacerta
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Aquarius, Grus, Piscis Austrinus

☄️ Fri. & Sat, October 8–9 | Draconid Meteor Shower: October sees two meteor showers, the first being the Draconids. Wait until it’s dark out, and hope for a cloudless sky to see this minor shower.

🌕 Wed. October 20 | Full Moon (aka the Hunter’s Moon): Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

☄️ Thurs. & Fri. October 21–22 | Orionid Meteor Shower: The second meteor shower in October, the Orionids appear due to debris left by Halley’s Comet, just as is the case with the Eta Aquarids in May. It’s said that the Orionids are best seen near the Orion constellation.

Photo by Kat Wagner

November

🌑 Thurs. November 4 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find Hipcamps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Pisces, Cassiopeia, Cepheus
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Phoenix, Tucana, Sculptor

☄️ Fri. & Sat. Nov 12–13 | Taurid Meteor Shower: Producing up to 10 meteors per hour, this is only a minor meteor shower but still a great reason to find yourself outside under the stars. Search for Hipcamps under dark skies.

☄️ Tues. & Wed. Nov 16–17 | Leonid Meteor Shower: The Leonids typically produce up to 20 meteors per hour, but unfortunately, the event’s proximity to the full moon means the show will be pretty much washed out.

🔴 Fri. November 19 | Partial Lunar Eclipse: A nearly-full 97% of the moon will be covered by Earth’s shadow at this eclipse’s peak, giving the covered portion a bit of a reddish glow and the un-eclipsed 3% a bright patch. Australia will see the partial eclipse late in the evening, while North America will get a look early in the morning before sunrise.

🌕 Fri. November 19 | Full Moon (aka the Beaver Moon): Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

December

🌑 Sat. December 4 | New Moon: The first phase of the lunar calendar, new moons occur when the sun and moon are aligned. The moon is therefore invisible from Earth, creating the darkest sky of the month—perfect for camping trips out to observe stars and see the Milky Way. Read our guide to stargazing and find camps under dark skies.

  • Northern Hemisphere constellations to see: Aries, Perseus
  • Southern Hemisphere constellations to see: Horologium, Eridanus

🔴 Sat. December 4 | Total Solar Eclipse: You may need to head to Antarctica to see it, but this solar eclipse is the biggest astronomical event of the year, with the moon entirely covering the sun.

☄️ Mon. & Tues. December 13–14 | Geminid Meteor Shower: Producing up to 120 meteors per hour at its peak, the Geminids are one of the best meteor showers to see all year, despite the bright moon seen at this time. Amateur astronomers should wait until the moon sets around 3am for the best shot at spotting the shooting stars. Find Hipcamps under dark skies.

🌕 Sun. December 19 | Full Moon (aka the Cold Moon): Full moons occur when Earth is located between the sun and moon, making the moon appear fully illuminated from Earth. It can be more difficult to see constellations with a bright full moon, but it does make for great moonlit hikes and family camping trips.

❄️☀️ Tues. December 21 | December Solstice: In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the shortest day of the year and the start of winter, and in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the longest day of the year and the kickoff to summer. This is due to the North Pole tilting away from the sun, and the South Pole tilting toward it.

☄️ Wed & Thurs. December 22–23 | Ursid Meteor Shower: Producing 5 to 10 meteors per hour, the Ursids are a fairly minor showing. The full moon will also make it harder to see them, but visiting a dark sky spot will give you the best chance of seeing the last shower of the year.

Start planning your next adventure by booking one of the best campsites for stargazing in time for a celestial event.

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