North America is poised to see a varying part of the May 26 eclipse depending on where you live, with the exception of the Maritimes, Quebec, as well as the east and half of the northern Ontario, where the moon will have set before the onset of the eclipse.
Eclipses occur when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are geometrically aligned, but this does not happen every month due to the moon’s slightly tilted orbit as it circles the Earth. However, a few times a year, this programming rewards us with an eclipse.
As the moon continues to creep into the large dark shadow of Earth, it takes on a burnt orange or coppery color which is very evident during the mid-eclipse called totality. Commonly referred to as the “blood moon,” people in ancient times saw it as a bad omen of a coming apocalypse or of religious significance.
Lunar eclipses are very safe to observe and photograph. This dramatic color change on the lunar surface is a result of sunlight refraction through the Earth’s atmosphere as we see during nocturnal sunsets. If you were on the moon for all, you would see a beautiful thin orange layer of Earth’s atmosphere and witness each sunset on the left half of the Earth and each sunrise on the right half at the same time. The next lunar eclipse will occur later this year, on November 19, and will be seen from most of Canada in its entirety.
Two weeks after the June 10 lunar eclipse, there will be a spectacular partial solar eclipse at sunrise observed mainly from the upper eastern part of the continent. This is where precautions should be taken to avoid eye injury or even blindness. If the morning is clear, those with sun filters will see the eclipse through trees and distant buildings, making for a fantastic photo op.
NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT A PROPER FILTER.
Sunglasses are not designed to look directly at the sun. Some safe ways to observe this event is to use a piece of number 14 welder’s glass (number 14 only). Contact reputable telescope dealers online to purchase specialized eclipse glasses. Remember to place the filter in front of the telescope, binoculars, or camera lens, reducing damaging light by over 99% before it is magnified. If you can’t find a solar filter, use a safe projection system. Project the image of the sun through a spaghetti strainer a few inches from the side of a building or sheet of paper, and safely watch the small “happy faces” being projected. This avoids looking at the sun. Anything that has a small hole, even a Ritz Cracker will do.
Lunar eclipse times:
At Pacific Time, the partial shadow eclipse begins at 2:44 a.m., totality begins at 4:11 a.m., mid-eclipse at 4:18 a.m., totality ends at 4:25 a.m. Moon sets layer before the end of the partial eclipse.
Known as “The Backyard Astronomer,” Gary Boyle is an astronomy educator, guest speaker and monthly columnist for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He has been interviewed on over 50 Canadian radio stations as well as on television across Canada and the United States. In recognition of his public awareness in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union awarded him the asteroid name (22406) Garyboyle. Follow him on Twitter: @astroeducator or his website: www.wondersofastronomy.com