The Top Astronomical Events of 2021 for Astrophotography

The Top Astronomical Events of 2021 for Astrophotography

Whether you are looking to get into astrophotography or take your skills to the next level, 2021 has lots of great astronomical events happening all over the world. Planning in advance and being in the right place at the right time is the first step to getting amazing shots. 

2020 turned out to be a pretty good year for both veteran and beginner astrophotographers, giving us a ton of amazing images of Comet Neowise, the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, and lots of great deep-sky objects. Looking towards 2021, more people are enjoying the night sky and showing an interest in astrophotography than ever before. Now is the best time to start planning for getting out and taking your own amazing images. 

Most photographers have everything needed to start taking pretty great images of things like the sun and moon, Milky Way, meteor showers, and more. Knowing when the events you want to photograph are going to happen, getting out to scout, or just taking test shots is the best way to take your images to the next level. With tools like PhotoPills or Dark Site Finder, you can plan a lot in advance from your couch at home. Some events are only viewable in very specific locations, while others can be seen from anywhere. So, it is important to know when and where the best times to photograph them are. 

Here is a calendar of a variety of astronomical events, mostly ones that can be seen with basic equipment, to help get you started. The year starts off a little slow but really picks up in the fall and moving into December. 

January

  • 2-3rd: Quadrantids Meteor Shower
  • 13th: First New Moon of the year, the best time of the month for observing deep-sky objects
  • 21st: Mars and Uranus in conjunction
  • 28th: First full Moon of the year, often referred to as the full Wolf Moon

February

  • 11th: New Moon
  • 27th: Full Moon

March 

  • 13th: New Moon
  • 20th: March Equinox
  • 28th: Full Moon

April

  • 12th: New Moon
  • 22nd, 23rd: Peak of Lyrids meteor shower
  • 27th: Full Moon, First Super Moon of the year. 

May

  • 6th, 7th: Peak of Eta Aquarids meteor shower
  • 11th: New Moon
  • 26th: Full Moon, Super Moon
  • 26th: Total Lunar Eclipse visible in Western North America, Eastern Asia, Japan, and Australia. 
  • 27th: Perihelion of Comet Pons-Winnecke

June

  • 10th: New Moon
  • 10th: Annular Solar Eclipse visible in Canada, Eastern Russia, and Western Greenland and a partial eclipse visible for the Northeastern United States, Europe, and Russia
  • 21st: June Solstice
  • 24th: Full Moon, last Super Moon of the year

July

  • The peak of Milky Way galactic core visibility
  • 7th: Conjunction of Venus and Mars
  • 10th: New Moon
  • 24th: Full Moon
  • 28th, 29th: Peak of Delta Aquarids meteor shower

August

  • 8th: New Moon
  • 12th, 13th: Peak of Perseids meteor shower
  • 19th: Jupiter at Opposition
  • 22nd: Full Moon, Blue Moon

September

  • 7th: New Moon
  • 14th: Neptune at opposition
  • 20th: Full Moon
  • 22nd: September Equinox
  • 27th: Perihelion of Comet d'Arrest

October

  • 6th: New Moon
  • 7th: Peak of Draconids meteor shower
  • 20th: Full Moon
  • 21st, 22nd: Peak of Orionids meteor shower

November

  • 2nd: Perihelion of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko
  • 4th: New Moon
  • 4th, 5th: Peak of Taurids meteor shower
  • 5th: Uranus at Opposition
  • 17th, 18t: Peak of Leonids meteor shower
  • 19th: Full Moon
  • 19th: Partial lunar eclipse visible in North America, Japan, Eastern Russia, and Western South America

December

  • 4th: New Moon
  • 4th: Total solar eclipse visible in Antarctica and Southern Atlantic Ocean, with a partial eclipse visible in Southern Africa.
  • 13th, 14th: Peak of Geminids meteor shower
  • 19th: Full Moon
  • 21st: December Solstice
  • 21st, 22nd: Peak of Ursids meteor shower

What events this year are you looking forward to? Did I miss anything you think should be added?

If you are interested in learning more about astrophotography, I'll be teaching a workshop at Palm Springs Photo Festival this April, taking photographers out to the Joshua Tree area. We will also have a bunch of star trackers on hand to test and play with during the event if you've ever wanted to see what they are all about.

Lead image used with permission by Max Hike.

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2 Comments

Alex Armitage's picture

June 10th, who wants to go to Greenland?

Chris Fowler's picture

I still owe thanks to Fstoppers for the content regarding Comet Neowise, my first attempt at astrophotography. Sadly, living in South Florida and having an abundance of cloud cover spoiled many of my other attempts at astro in 2020. Thanks for the heads-up on 2021 events!