This calendar of celestial events is frequently updated.
Check out what's happening in the sky this winter!
UAF photo by Todd Paris, 2014
- March 6- Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 27.3 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
- March 13- New Moon. The Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 1:23 AM Alaska time. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
- March 20- March Equinox. The March equinox occurs at 12:27 AM Alaska time. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.
- March 28- Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 11:49 AM Alaska time. This full moon was known by some Native American tribes as the Worm Moon because this was the time of year when the ground would begin to soften and the earthworms would reappear. This moon has also been known as the Crow Moon, the Crust Moon, the Sap Moon, and the Lenten Moon.
- April 11- New Moon. The Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 5:32 PM Alaska time. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
- April 22, 23- Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25. It peaks this year on the night of the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The nearly full moon will be a problem this year. Its glare will block out all but the brightest meteors. But if you are patient you may still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
- April 26- Full Moon, Supermoon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 6:33 PM Alaska time. This full moon was known by some Native American tribes as the Pink Moon because it marked the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the first spring flowers. This moon has also been known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Growing Moon, and the Egg Moon. Many coastal tribes called it the Fish Moon because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn. This is also the first of three supermoons for 2021. The Moon will be near its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.
More astronomy viewing resources:
Check the aurora forecast for Interior Alaska, courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.
Use star wheels and astrolabes to find celestial bodies!
Sea and Sky has a yearly calendar to help you plan future astronomy viewings.
Check the weather on Mars, courtesy of the InSight lander.
UAF photo by Todd Paris, 2015.
This project was funded under NASA cooperative agreement NNX16AL65A. Any opinions,
findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those
of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration.
All photos from NASA unless otherwise credited.