Stargazers: the heavens have something special in store for you this week!
On the morning of Friday, November 19, observers in Ontario will be lucky enough to see a partial lunar eclipse.
A trick of the light
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes directly between the Sun and the Moon. During this time, the Earth’s shadow will cover the Moon, plunging it into complete darkness.
If that were all there was to the story, the Moon would almost completely disappear from view, illuminated only by the faint light of the stars.
However, the Earth has a vibrant atmosphere, which acts as a lens that bends sunlight around the Earth to fall on the Moon.
Just as our atmosphere scatters blue light leaving a more yellowish/reddish hue (think of a setting sun on a misty summer afternoon), our atmosphere scatters most of the blue light from the Sun, leaving only the redder light falling on the moon. , as in the image above.
Ontario has a front row seat
In the early hours of November 19, this is exactly what we will see.
While the eclipse will technically start much earlier, we will notice that it will get dark around 2:30 am. Around 4:00 am, it will be mostly covered in shadows and the moon will be almost completely reddish and dark. Around 5:45 am the eclipse will be over.
Below is an animation generated with SkySafari 6 Pro. We have sped up the time to show the effect of the eclipse without waiting for hours.
How to detect the eclipse
To best see the eclipse, you should have a clear view of the southern and western horizons.
To photograph the eclipse, experiment with underexposing what your camera’s meter tells you. It’s best to play around with adjusting the exposure to make it brighter or dimmer.
If the weather is bad, you may want to watch a live stream of the eclipse from one of the many locations that will be broadcast.
Don’t miss this spectacular lunar event!
Set your alarms now for the early hours of November 19!
For more on November’s astronomical delights, check out our Eyes on the Skies series.