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Total Lunar Eclipse on January 20th

(Featured image:  Paul Owen – Total Lunar Eclipse of September 2015)

On the night of January 20th, there will be a total lunar eclipse visible across all of North America. This is the only eclipse of any kind we’ll be able to witness from Canada in 2019. Over a period of hours, the Moon will dim and take on a reddish color as is passes behind the Earth’s shadow.

You don’t need any special equipment to enjoy the lunar eclipse. All you need are your eyes, warm clothing, and clear weather.

Live Feeds

Here are some sources that will stream the eclipse live:

Note that the lunar eclipse won’t be as dramatic, or happen as quickly as a solar eclipse. What you can do is tune in to these live feeds occasionally to observe the reddening of the moon.

Local Events

Due to the storm, all eclipse observing events in New Brunswick have been cancelled.

Timetable

The following chart shows the times (in EST) when the Moon will pass into the Earth’s umbra and penumbra (chart courtesy of Glenn LeDrew/RASC/SkyNews). Add one hour to obtain Atlantic Standard Time.

Why the name Super Blood Wolf Moon?

Don’t worry, werewolves won’t be prowling about in the night. The news media has been calling this event the Super Blood Wolf Moon. It’s not a real scientific term, but there is some logic to it. This name can be broken down as follows:

  • Super: The moon will be at perigee, which is the point in the moon’s elliptical orbit where it’s closest to the Earth and appears 14% larger than average. When the full moon occurs at or near perigee, the news media calls this event a supermoon.
  • Blood: Lunar eclipses have been informally called blood moon due to the moon taking on a reddish color.
  • Wolf: Wolf Moon is the name given to the January full moon according to the Old Farmer’s Almanach.

RASC Handouts

RASC National has produced this short video on the upcoming lunar eclipse:

Here are pamphlets made by the RASC and SkyNews magazine that you can download and print to promote the upcoming lunar eclipse event.


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This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2019 January 12 – January 19

Looking at a constellation it is easy to imagine its component stars as being fairly close together in space, as if it is an actual body. Let us look at two prominent winter constellations to see if that is true. Surely the three stars of Orion’s Belt are almost equidistant; at first glance they appear to be almost equally bright. Alnitak, the left star, is 1260 light years (ly) away, 60 ly farther than Mintaka on the right. Alnilam, the middle star, is much farther at 2000 ly. Orion must have a lumpy belly. Saiph and bright Rigel, marking Orion’s feet or knees, are reasonably equidistant at 650 ly and 860 ly, respectively. In the giant hunter’s shoulders orange Betelgeuse is about 600 ly away and Bellatrix is 250 ly.

Following the belt to the lower left we arrive at Canis Major, the Big Dog, with brilliant Sirius at its heart. Sirius is the brightest star of the night sky and the closest naked-eye star we can see in New Brunswick at 8.6 ly (only 82 trillion kilometres), which is the main reason it is the brightest. If Rigel were that close it would be about as bright as the quarter Moon. Adhara, in the dog’s rear leg, is the 23rd brightest star and 430 ly away, Wezen in the dog’s butt is 1600 ly, and the tail star Aludra is 2000 ly distant. Obviously, the constellations are just chance alignments of stars from our viewpoint. The distances cited here are taken from Wikipedia, but other sources could vary significantly as stellar distances are difficult to determine precisely. This is an update of an article I wrote two years ago and most of the values have changed.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:59 am and sunset will occur at 4:56 pm, giving 8 hours, 57 minutes of daylight (8:01 am and 5:03 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:54 am and set at 5:05 pm, giving 9 hours, 11 minutes of daylight (7:57 am and 5:12 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is at first quarter on Monday and it sits to the left of Aldebaran after sunset on Thursday. Jupiter lies nine degrees to the lower left of Venus this Saturday; watch them close the gap by half over the week. Mercury meets up with Saturn in the morning sky this weekend but they will be difficult to observe, rising just half an hour before the Sun. Mars resembles a first magnitude red star in the southwest during the evening.

There will be public observing at Moncton High School Observatory on Friday, January 11 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. RASC NB, the provincial astronomy club, meets in the Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre on January 19 at 1 pm. All are welcome.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason at nasonc@nbnet.nb.ca.

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Photos of the Month – January 2019

This is our first Photos of the Month blog post. We hope to make this a regular monthly thing, but we’ll need to keep receiving photo submissions from our members to keep this going.

Click on any image to view a larger version. While viewing the larger version, click on the image to show/hide the description. You may also click on the left/right arrows to go to the previous/next image.

All images are copyright of their respective authors. You may not use or redistribute these images without their permission.



François’ complete astrophotography gallery is available on his Astrobin page.

The deadline for members submitting their photos for the February issue of this blog is January 31st.

If you are a RASC-NB member, and have not received instructions via email about how to submit your photos, please contact the webmaster here (choose Concerning: Website).

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