Stargazing in the Sacramento region for 2022

A rainbow colored nebula is seen from space.

We’re starstruck by this photo taken in Elk Grove. | Photo by Andrew McCarthy, @cosmic_background

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Outdoor movies, weekends at the river + barbecues are all signs of a Sacramento summer well spent, but there’s something else that really shines a light on what makes this season so great: stargazing.

There’s just something so special to us about huddling around a telescope in the pleasantly warm weather + underneath the bewilderingly expansive sky.

So to help you have an easy landing into a star-studded summer, we’re here to give you the full rundown of all things astronomy to mark on your calendar the next few months — like the Perseids meteor shower that runs Fri., Aug. 12-Sat., Aug. 13. In fact, we’ve even constellated all the cosmically-aligned events you won’t want to miss for the rest of the year.

But first, a look at some of Sacramento region’s resources for budding astronomers:

⭐️ Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society | One of the oldest societies of its kind in the country (founded in 1945, it’s going on 80 years), this educational collective serves the entire Northern California region with outreach parties, scholarships + guidance on amateur telescope making. Its members range from elementary students to college professors, and even a “world-famous comet hunter.”

⭐️ UC Davis Astronomy Club | Despite taking place on UC Davis’ campus, this club hosts various activities throughout the year that are open to the public, such as sky viewings on Friday nights. Reach out to learn more.

⭐️ Community Observatory | Enjoy docent-led tours of the night sky from 9-11 p.m. Fridays + Saturdays at this Placerville-based observation-post for the cosmos.

Don’t forget, too, that SMUD hosts celestially-themed shows every day at its UC Davis Multiverse Theater, or that the planetarium at Sacramento State is currently showing “Unseen Universe” — a show exploring the mysteries of the night sky — until Sat., July 23.

The Summer Triangle

One of the more easily spotted sights in the purply, nighttime firmament this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere isn’t a constellation — it’s an asterism known as The Summer Triangle.

What’s an asterism? While a concise description of the word is a little fiddly, as they aren’t official, age-old things like constellations, an asterism is generally thought to be a “simple pattern [of stars] that is easy to recognize.”

The stars that embody the Summer Triangle, which is a grouping of three bright heavenly bodies that — yep, you guessed it — form a triangle-like shape in the sky.:

Heads up: To see these stars, be sure to look eastward.

Constellations to look out for in July

Check out this light pollution map to plan the perfect stargazing experience in + around Sac.

Stargazing in 2022

Meteor showers

  • Delta Aquarids – July 28-29
  • Perseids – Aug. 12-13
  • Draconids – Oct. 7
  • Orionids – Oct. 21-22
  • Taurids – Nov. 4-5
  • Leonids – Nov. 17-18
  • Geminids – Dec. 13-14
  • Ursids – Dec. 21-22

Supermoons

  • July 13
  • August 12

Lunar eclipse

  • Nov. 8

Bonus – Here are some cool tools you can utilize for all of your astronomical + stargazing needs:

Moon phase calendar

Real-time astronomical simulator

Constellation guide

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