Eclipses are awe-inspiring sights that must be seen firsthand.
In the early morning hours of May 26, the Full Flower Moon will pass into the earth’s shadow, the first of two lunar eclipses to be seen this year.
North America is poised to see a varying portion of the May 26 eclipse depending on where you live except for the Maritimes, Quebec as well as eastern and half of northern Ontario where the moon will have set before the eclipse begins.
Eclipses occur as the sun, earth and moon are geometrically lined up but this does not occur every month because of the moon’s slightly tilted orbit as it circles the earth.
However, a few times a year this lineup rewards us with an eclipse.
In Mountain Time the partial umbral eclipse begins at 3:44 a.m. Totality occurs at moonset.
As the moon continues to slip into the earth’s large, dark shadow, it takes on a burnt orange or copper colour which is very evident during mid-eclipse called totality.
Commonly referred to as the “blood moon”, people of antiquity saw this as a bad omen of a coming apocalypse or some religious meaning.
Lunar eclipses are very safe to observe and photograph.
This dramatic colour change on the lunar surface is the result of sunlight refracting through the earth’s atmosphere much as we see during nightly sunsets.
If you were on the moon during totality, you would see a beautiful thin orange layer of the earth’s atmosphere and witness every sunset on the left half the earth and every 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.
by Gary Boyle