Public lunar eclipse watching events
on January 20-21
Come and watch the eclipse with us at Planetarium Rio Tinto Alcan! Staff and volunteers will have telescopes set up for the public. Please refer to the Facebook Event for details. Important note: If the weather conditions are unfavourable, the event will be cancelled.
Other public eclipse watching events around Montreal and elsewhere in the province are listed on the website of the Fédération des astronomes amateurs du Québec (FAAQ).
If you can’t attend any of these events, or if the sky where you live simply refuses to cooperate, you can still watch live webcasts of the eclipse. Here's a selection:
The year 2019 is kicking off in style with two exciting astronomical events on the night of January 20-21 – a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse.
What’s a supermoon?
The orbit of the Moon around the Earth is slightly elliptical. The Moon’s distance from Earth ranges from 356,700 km at its perigee to 406,300 km at its apogee. A supermoon occurs when our natural satellite reaches its closest point to the Earth just before or after the full moon.
On January 21, the full moon will occur at 12:16 a.m., nearly 15 hours before the perigee (3:06 p.m.). At that time, the Moon will appear bigger, but not excessively so. Since it will be only about 6% larger than normal full moons, it will be difficult to see the difference without directly comparing.
The ABCs of lunar eclipses
A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow cone. Unlike solar eclipses, the Moon doesn’t completely disappear. Instead, it takes on a reddish-orange hue as the Sun’s rays are refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere toward the red part of the spectrum and then cast onto the Moon’s surface.
On January 20, the partial phase of the eclipse will begin at 10:33 p.m. when the lunar disk passes through the Earth’s shadow cone. During that time, the portion of the Moon in the shadow cone will appear black due to the contrast in light with the emerged part of the globe still receiving direct sunlight.
Totality will begin at 11:41 p.m. when the Moon becomes fully engulfed by the Earth’s shadow and turns a reddish colour. Totality of the eclipse will last until 12:43 a.m. on January 21. Then, we’ll see the partial lunar eclipse phase again when the lunar disk emerges from the Earth’s shadow cone, ending at 1:50 a.m.
The next lunar eclipse to be visible in Quebec will take place on May 15, 2022. So don’t miss the opportunity to observe this one in January– especially since it’s rare for a lunar eclipse to coincide with a supermoon. Now let’s hope the weather works in our favour for observing these spectacular celestial phenomena.