Maritimers prepare to set sights on supermoon lunar eclipse
Published Thursday, September 24, 2015 6:21PM ADT
Maritime sky watchers are in for a treat as they are in line to have the best seats in the country for an astronomical phenomenon that hasn't been seen since 1982.
A supermoon is when the moon is at the closest point of orbit with the earth, making it appear 14 per cent bigger. When the supermoon has a reddish colour, it is caused by a lunar eclipse.
A supermoon lunar eclipse is the rare occasion when a lunar eclipse occurs at the same time as a super moon.
“As the earth is in front of the moon and blocking the light from the sun, there's a bit of light that's going around the edge of the earth and being directed down onto the moon and that's basically all of the light of every sunset and sunrise on the earth landing on the moon making it blood red,” says astrophysics professor Rob Thacker.
It's actually been written by doomsayers that the blood moon marks the end of the world.
“In fact, people have done lots of statistical studies on this and there's not really anything more crazy that happens,” says Thacker.
At the most, Maritimers will see some higher than usual tides.
“On the Bay of Fundy side, you could see tide ranges of 50 feet or nearly so and on the Atlantic Coast you might see tide ranges of a low to high approaching seven feet,” says astronomer David Lane.
This particular lunar eclipse will begin just after nine p.m., ending shortly after two a.m. However, the best time to watch will be between 11:10 p.m. and 12:15 a.m.
The Maritimes will be one of the best spots in the country to catch the supermoon lunar eclipse in its entirety. That's as long as the skies stay clear Sunday night and so far the forecast is looking pretty ideal.
“We're lucky that we're going to be able to see pretty much all of the eclipse, where as someone in Vancouver, because of the way the earth is rotated as it comes around to see the eclipse, the totality of the eclipse is just going to be starting during their sunrise,” says Thacker.
Once the eclipse passes, it won't happen again for another 18 years.
Like most in his field Lane is excited to see the astronomical phenomenon.
“I'll probably have my own telescope out just watching it, every once in a while I'll go outside and maybe take some pictures,” says Lane.
Lane will also be posting pictures of the phenomenon to social media, all by remote controlling a massive telescope at Saint Mary's University. However, you won’t need a fancy telescope to be able to enjoy the supermoon lunar eclipse.
“You don't need to look through a telescope to see this, this is just one of those things that your naked eye you really can appreciate well,” says Thacker.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Matt Woodman