April 2024

Sunday April 21Monday April 22

The Lyrid meteor shower will reach its peak.

Best seen from the Northern Hemisphere, the Lyrids are caused by the dusty debris from a comet named Thatcher and spring from the constellation Lyra.

During this year’s period of peak activity, viewers may have a more difficult time seeing meteors from this shower because the moon will be nearly full. Here’s what you need to know about watching meteor showers.

Sunday April 21

All Day
Comet Pons-Brooks makes its closest approach to the sun.

Comet Pons-Brooks, which has a shape that has been compared to “devil horns” and even the Millennium Falcon of “Star Wars,” swings around the sun every 71 years, becoming brighter and developing a tail upon its approach.

In the few weeks of April leading up to this point, the comet could be visible in the Northern Hemisphere to the naked eye. However, by April 21, when the comet is set to be closest to the sun, it may be more difficult to discern. Experienced skywatchers may spot the comet during the solar eclipse on April 8. As Pons-Brooks moves away from the sun, observers in the Southern Hemisphere will get the chance to catch the comet before it swoops out of view for the next seven decades. Learn more about how Pons-Brooks has evolved here.

May 2024

Sunday May 5Monday May 6

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower will reach its peak.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is known for its fast fireballs, which occur as Earth passes through the rubble left by Halley’s Comet.

Sometimes spelled Eta Aquariid, this shower is most easily seen from the southern tropics. But a lower rate of meteors will also be visible in the Northern Hemisphere close to sunrise. With the moon just a thin sliver in the sky, viewers could witness a strong show this year. Here’s what you need to know about watching meteor showers.

Monday May 6

All Day
NASA astronauts could fly to the International Space Station aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft for the first time.

Boeing and SpaceX once were racing to be the first to carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in a privately built spacecraft. That race ended in 2020, with SpaceX emerging as the victor. After technical problems in 2019 and 2021, Boeing finally sent an uncrewed Starliner to the space station in 2022. After even more delays prompted by problems with the capsule, it is scheduled to fly a crew of astronauts to the orbital outpost this spring, expanding the number of spacecraft capable of carrying humans into orbit.

June 2024

Saturday June 15

All Day
The European Space Agency could attempt the first launch of the Ariane 6 rocket.

Europe’s final Ariane 5 rocket completed its last mission in July 2023, and problems with other rockets have left the continent’s space program reliant on SpaceX and others for trips to space. The Ariane 6 rocket could lift off on a demonstration flight that aims to restore Europe’s ability to reach space on its own after a series of delays. Other customers are also waiting to fly on the rocket.

Event details and information on how to add events to your personal calendar can be found on the New York Times website.