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Updated: May 9, 2022


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Stargazing on Cape Cod
Meteor Showers, Eclipses & More

Meteor showers in the Cape Cod night sky. Super moons on the horizon. Lunar eclipses turning the moon dark. It's all happening this year!

Meteor with a long blue, pink and white tail, shooting across the night skyColorful Meteor Trail in the Clear Night Sky

Meteor Showers in 2022

January 3-4, 2022 - The Quadrantids

Yes, this is a chilly one! So bundle up and grab a thermos of hot cocoa to take with you if you're going out on meteor watch.

The moon won't hinder viewing this year. So if Mom Nature gives us a cloudless night, we might be able to see big, bright fireballs streaking across the sky.

  • Best Viewing Time: From about 2 a.m. to just before dawn on January 4th

  • Average Rate in Dark Skies: 40+ meteors per hour

April 22-23, 2022 - The Lyrids

 The Lyrids are somewhat unpredictable. Normally, the Lyrid meteor showers only produce a few visible meteors per hour. But on a good year, the rate might rise to 100+ per hour.

For this year's sky show, the moon will only pose a little interference. If you can roust yourself from bed at that hour, head out for excellent viewing in a (hopefully!) cloud-free sky.

  • Best Viewing Time: The hours just before dawn on April 23rd

  • Average Rate in Dark Skies: 10-20 per hour

August 12-13, 2022 - The Perseids

This is one of the best known, most-watched meteor showers of all ... and my personal favorite for a couple reasons.

First, the Persieds reliably produce some awesome meteor sightings year after year.

Second, and maybe most importantly - it's warm here in August. It's a wonderful time to be outdoors gazing up at the stars!

On peak night for the Perseids in 2022, the moon will be full, making it tough to see all but the biggest, brightest meteors.

  • Best Viewing Time: From around 10 p.m. on Aug. 12th into the pre-dawn hours on Aug. 13th

  • Average Rate in Dark Skies: 80+ per hour

October 7, 2022 - The Draconids

The Draconids (a/k/a "Giacobinids") meteor shower is usually a pretty sparse event with only a few sightings each hour. But on rare occasion, it produces a magnificent display.

The Draconids are mostly seen in the evening hours shortly after dark, so there's no need to get up in the middle of the night to see them. The quarter moon will obscure the more faint meteors this year. But who knows, we might see some good ones anyway!  

  • Best Viewing Times: Nightfall into early evening

  • Average Rate in Dark Skies: Usually just a few per hour, but on an exceptional year it could be hundreds per hour.

October 21-22, 2022 - The Orionids

With only a few sightings an hour, this is one of the annual sky events that I don't bother setting my alarm clock for.

This year, the moon will be just a skinny little sliver in the sky. So if you're going to be awake before dawn anyway, it can't hurt to take a peek outside. Who knows? You might be lucky enough to see an Orionid fireball or two. 

  • Best Viewing Time: The hours just before dawn on October 22nd

  • Average Rate in Dark Skies: 10-20 per hour

November 17-18, 2022 - The Leonids

In 2001 the Leonids produced the most breathtaking display I've ever seen!

At one point during the night, almost everyone in our neighborhood was on the beach, braving unseasonably cold conditions, watching hundreds of shooting stars flashing through the sky.

That's a rare occurrence, though. The Leonids usually put on a much more subdued performance.  

Unfortunately, in 2022 the moon will be a hindrance to viewing most of the night, finally setting just before sunrise. If you're an early riser, it's worth taking a pre-dawn peek for some  breathtaking meteors.

  • Best Viewing Times: Pre-dawn on November 18th

  • Average Rate in Dark Skies: 10-20 per hour

December 14, 2022 - The Geminids

This is usually one of the best meteor showers of the year with the brightest Geminids sometimes showing colors of blue, yellow or green.

For most of the night, viewing will be a challenge thanks to a bright moon that will rise in the early evening. But if you happen to be outdoors on the night of December 13-14 (especially in the pre-dawn hours), it's definitely worth looking to the sky to see if you can spot some Geminids!  

  • Best Viewing Time: Late night on December 13th to pre-dawn on Dec. 14

  • Average Rate in Dark Skies: 75-100+ per hour

Where to Watch Meteor Showers on Cape Cod

The best viewing spot for meteor showers is as far away as you can get from bright lights.

On Cape Cod, that means almost anywhere is good ... except the more commercial areas of Falmouth, Mashpee, Hyannis, Orleans and Provincetown.

My recommendation? Scout out a few possible viewing locations the night before the shower so you'll know where it's darkest.

Lunar Eclipses in 2022

Two lunar eclipses will be visible on Cape Cod - and across most of  North America - in 2022.

Full moon shaded by orange-red eclipse shadow against a black sky."Super Moon" Eclipse in Progress

May 15-16, 2022: Total Lunar Eclipse

This total lunar eclipse is an extra-special sky event because it comes on the night of a "full super moon" - a time when the moon is nearest to the Earth at the same time it's full.

The eclipse begins during late evening on May 15th and continues into the wee hours of May 16th.

Here's what we'll see on Cape Cod - assuming, of course, that Mother Nature gives us clear skies!

Partial Eclipse Begins: Around 10:30 p.m. (EDT), the shadow will begin to cover the moon.

Total Eclipse Begins: Around midnight (EDT), the moon will be at its peak. A really cool sight to see!

Total Eclipse Ends: Shortly before 1:00 a.m. (EDT), totality will end, and the dark shadow will begin to move off the moon.

Partial Eclipse Ends: By 2:00 a.m. (EDT). All visible signs of eclipse will be gone.

November 8, 2022: Total Lunar Eclipse

The second total lunar eclipse of 2022 begins a few hours before the sun comes up. Early risers: this one's for you!

Partial Eclipse Begins: Around 4:00 a.m. (EST), the shadow will start.

Full Eclipse: Totality officially begins a little after 5:00 a.m. (EST). The moon will stay in total eclipse until just before 6:00 a.m. (EST). 

Moon Set: The sun will begin to rise over Cape Cod, and the moon will set, around 6:30 a.m. (EST) on the morning of the eclipse. Just in time for breakfast! ;-)

Did You Know?

No matter where you are on Earth, you can watch the International Space Station (ISS) pass overhead. Telescope not required!

Click here to find ISS viewing times near you 

Other "Super Moons" in 2022

There will be three more super moons this year. Here are the dates and the nicknames given to them:

  • June 14, 2022 - full "Strawberry Moon"

  • July 13, 2022 - full "Buck Moon"

  • August 11, 2022 - full "Sturgeon Moon"

For each of these events, the moon will rise on Cape Cod in early evening and set an hour or so before dawn.

Perfect timing for sights like this ...

Big, bright Super Moon Over Seagull Beach a Few Hours After Sunset
(Moonlight so bright I could see colors on the beach!)
Gigantic, yellow moon setting behind oceanfront homesSuper Moon Setting On Nantucket Sound Just Before Dawn
(All I can say is, "Breathtaking!")

Meteor Shower Lodging

Want to see the stars shooting over the ocean? Consider staying somewhere on the waterfront:

Sky Watching at the Beach: What To Bring

Here's my short list of "must-have" items:

  • Warm clothes. It gets chilly at night when you're near the water, even in the middle of summer.

  • A beach blanket, inflatable raft or air mattress. For the most comfortable viewing, you'll want to lie flat on your back -- or as stretched out as possible. (Ignore this advice at your own risk. Many a stiff neck has come from watching the sky while standing or sitting upright, head tilted back. I've learned this lesson the hard way.)

  • A flashlight. If you've picked the right place, you'll be totally in the dark until your eyes adjust. Bring a flashlight - with fully charged batteries - so you can see where you're going.

  • Bug repellant. On warm late spring, summer and early fall nights, it gets a little "buggy" on the beach. So don't forget your bug repellant. (Here's what I use.) Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

  • Snacks and drinks. No, not alcoholic beverages. Those aren't allowed on our public beaches ... and it's against the law to drink and drive, anyway. But do bring some snacks and other beverages. And please, dispose of your trash properly. Help us keep our beaches beautiful!

Star Parties on Cape Cod

Thursday nights in the warm-weather months (weather permitting), Cape Cod Astronomical Society hosts a "Star Party" at Dennis-Yarmouth High School in South Yarmouth... home of the Werner-Schmidt Observatory.

Local astronomers set up telescopes and invite visitors to gaze through the lens. These friendly, knowledgeable folks are happy to share their wealth of knowledge about the stars, the planets, and pretty much anything else you'd like to know about the night sky.

The Star Parties are open to the public, free of charge.

For details and schedule, visit Cape Cod Astronomical Society's website.

*Update: May 2022 - CCAS Star Parties were suspended during the pandemic. I expect they'll start up again this summer, but I haven't been able to find out for sure.

As soon as I know more, I'll post it here. So please stay tuned!

 


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