Updated: January 15, 2023
Meteor showers, super moons, a "blue moon", views of the International Space Station, and a comet sighting, too.
Look for all these celestial events across the Cape Cod sky in 2023!
Read on to find out about:
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 will be full, hindering our viewing somewhat. But if Mom Nature gives us a cloudless night, we still might be able to see a few big, bright fireballs streaking across the sky.
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 crescent moon will only pose a little interference. If you can roust yourself from bed before daybreak, head out for excellent viewing in a (hopefully!) cloud-free sky.
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 2023, the moon won't be any problem at all. Yay!
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!
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 in its first quarter phase and will set before midnight. 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.
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.
Fortunately, in 2023 the moon will be no hindrance at all to our viewing ability. If you're an early riser, take a pre-dawn peek for some breathtaking meteors.
This is usually one of the best meteor showers of the year with the brightest Geminids sometimes showing colors of blue, yellow or green.
This year the moon will be nearly new, leaving us with nice dark skies for the Geminids. If you're outdoors on the night of December 13-14 (especially in the pre-dawn hours), it's definitely worth looking to the sky!
The best viewing spot for meteor showers is as far away from bright lights as you can get.
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 potential viewing locations the night before the shower so you'll know where it's darkest.
Here's my short list of "must-have" items:
When the moon is full and at perigee (its closest point to the earth), that's a super moon.
What's so "super" about it?
When the moon is high in the sky, it shines much more brightly than a normal full moon.
And when it's near the horizon, the moon appears gigantic!
There will be four super moons this year:
Throughout the year, local astronomy groups host "Star Parties" in several locations on Cape Cod.
These friendly, knowledgeable folks set up their telescopes and invite visitors to gaze through the lens. They're 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 and free to attend.
Cape Cod Astronomical Society hosts their events at Dennis-Yarmouth High School in South Yarmouth, home of the Werner Schmidt Observatory.
For details and schedule, visit Cape Cod Astronomical Society's website.
Monomoy Regional School District's star parties are held at Harwich Elementary School's observatory.
These gatherings are normally put on hold during the winter months, resuming sometime in March.
Check the Harwich Observatory website for details and schedule.
Osterville Village Library also holds Star Parties every now and then.
OVL's astronomy program's experienced guides host these early-evening meet-ups at Dowses Beach on the shores of Nantucket Sound.
See OVL's website to find out about upcoming star parties.