A combination of astronomical events is happening all at the same time Sunday night and some in southern Alberta will have a front seat to the action.
A total lunar eclipse and super blood wolf moon are going to play out simultaneously, promising a picturesque cosmic scene for skygazers.
A shadow will start to appear on the moon just after 8:30 p.m. and the maximum eclipse — where the moon is completely covered — will happen around 10:12 p.m.
The final stages will begin shortly after that with the whole astronomical event wrapping up shortly before 1 a.m. Monday morning.
According to a fun fact from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, for anyone watching the cosmic event from on the moon, they’d be seeing a solar eclipse as well.
A lunar eclipse — which only happens during full moons — takes place when the Earth lines up between the sun and the moon, blocking out the sun’s light and casting a shadow on the lunar surface.
The supermoon portion of this event happens when the full moon is at the closest point of orbit to the Earth, called a perigee. It is around about 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than normal. That is why it appears slightly brighter and larger than a regular full moon, according to NASA.
This is the first of three supermoons in 2019, according to EarthSky. The second one takes place Feb. 19 and the third on March 21.
The blood moon part happens when the bright moon creeps directly through the Earth’s shadow, causing it to turn to gold, copper or even a dark red.
The colour depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere, NASA said on its website.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the term wolf moon comes from Indigenous culture, as the moon appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages.
Those that miss this eclipse will need to wait until May 26, 2021, for the next opportunity to witness a total lunar eclipse.
The next partial lunar eclipse will be this summer, on July 16, but will be visible only in Africa and portions of Asia.
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