It’s not every day that you get to see a lunar eclipse — in fact, it’s not even every year. Give or take, a total lunar eclipse can be spotted from any given location once every 2.5 years, and that’s being generous. Lucky for us, the next one’s actually going to be perfectly visible from Montreal, and it’s taking place this Sunday, September 27th.
So what is a total eclipse, exactly? Essentially, the light we see from the moon every night is actually just the reflection of the sun’s rays on the moon’s surface — the moon doesn’t produce its own light. So when the sun, earth, and moon happen to orbit into a straight line with the sun behind the earth, the earth blocks out the sun’s light, casting its own shadow on the moon. But we can still see the moon, as the Earth’s atmosphere continues to reflect some sunlight onto its surface, which is what causes it to look red (the more you know!).
According to the team behind Montreal’s Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, this weekend’s eclipse is particularly special for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s “the last total eclipse of the Moon that will be visible from Quebec until 2019.” And what’s more, it just so happens to be taking place on the same evening as the biggest full moon of the year. So not only will there be an eclipse, but you can expect it to be huge.
Montrealers are invited by Montréal Space for Life to witness the eclipse together at the Planetarium, free of charge. As promised, “our science interpreters and amateur astronomers from the Société d’astronomie du Planétarium de Montréal will be on hand inside and outside the Planetarium to watch the Earth’s natural satellite during this event.” They encourage you to bring your own cameras and binoculars, as this specific eclipse won’t damage your eyes if you look at it directly. There will also be telescopes and chairs available, so you’ve got everything you need to kick back and watch the moon burn red.
On behalf of the event’s organizers, please note: “The activity may be cancelled without prior notice if it is overcast or raining. There will also be no shows in the Planetarium’s theatres that evening.”
To watch the eclipse at the planetarium, head to 4801 Avenue Pierre-de Coubertin at any time between 8:30 PM – 12 AM this Sunday (September 27th).