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Updated: January 3, 2024

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Stargazing on Cape Cod:
Meteor Showers, Super Moons & More

Updated: March 31, 2024

Meteor showers, super moons, and views of the International Space Station, too. Look for all these celestial events across the Cape Cod sky in 2024!

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

Read on to find out about: 

  • Meteor Showers - the best times to look for shooting stars, and tips for best places to watch and what to bring with you.

  • Supermoons - when they'll happen this year

  • International Space Station - how to see the ISS with the naked eye.

  • "Star Parties" - where to meet up with amateur astronomers to see the heavens through their telescopes.

Viewing the Solar Eclipse
on April 8, 2024

Massachusetts DCR will host special eclipse-viewing programs at two locations on Cape Cod: Nickerson State Park in Brewster and Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in North Falmouth.

These events are free to attend and will take place (weather permitting) on April 8th from 2:20 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.

Free eclipse glasses will be available while supplies last.

*See: MA DCR website for more info

Meteor Showers in 2024

January 3-4, 2024 - 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 will be 51% 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.

  • Best Viewing Time: From about 1 a.m. to just before dawn on January 4th

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

April 21-22, 2024 - 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 nearly full moon will  pose quite a bit of interference, making it difficult to see all but the brightest meteors. But if you happen to be awake before daybreak, you might want to go out and take a peek at the sky anyway.  

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

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

August 11-12, 2024 - 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 Perseids 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 2024, the moon will be 44% full. But the good news is: the moon will set just after midnight, leaving the sky plenty dark for some good meteor viewing. Yay!

  • Best Viewing Time: From around 11 p.m. on Aug. 11th into the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 12th

  • Average Rate in Dark Skies: 80+ per hour

October 7, 2024 - 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 on October 7th.

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

October 20-21, 2024 - 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 83% full, making for some pretty tough meteor-spotting. But if you're going to be awake before dawn anyway, who knows? You might be lucky enough to see an Orionid fireball or two. 

  • Best Viewing Time: The hours just before dawn on October 21st

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

November 17-18, 2024 - 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 2024 the moon will be almost full, hindering our ability to see all but the brightest fireballs. 

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

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

December 13-14, 2024 - 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.

This year the nearly full moon will put a damper on our viewing. That said, if we have a cloud-free sky on the night of December 13-14, it's still worth watching for some Geminid meteors streaking above us!

  • 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 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.

Meteor 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. In late-spring, summer and early fall, the evening hours can be a little "buggy". 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 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 Cape Cod beaches beautiful!

Meteor Shower Lodging

Want to walk out your door and see the stars shooting over the ocean? Consider staying somewhere on the waterfront:

"Super Moons" in 2024

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.

Big, bright "super moon" lighting up the beach and reflecting off the ocean waterSuper Moon Over Seagull Beach a Few Hours After Sunset
(Moonlight so bright I could see colors on the beach!)

And when it's near the horizon, the moon appears gigantic!

Gigantic, yellow moon setting behind oceanfront homesSuper Moon Setting On Nantucket Sound Just Before Dawn
(All I can say is, "Breathtaking!")

There will be three super moons in 2024:

  • September 18th

  • October 17th

  • November 15th

"Star Parties" on Cape Cod

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.

Observatory structure with dome open for viewing the night skyWerner Schmidt Observatory

Cape Cod Astronomical Society Star Parties

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.

Harwich Observatory Star Parties

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 Star Parties

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.

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 


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