PEI

Lunar eclipse will be spectacular — if you can see it

For just a couple of minutes Wednesday morning, stargazers may get to see a strange looking moon.

The celestial event is set for Wednesday morning, but might be difficult for Islanders to see

A lunar eclipse will coincide with a so-called 'super blue blood moon' on Wednesday morning. (Carl Recine/Reuters)

If you look up at just the right time Wednesday morning, you might see a strange looking moon.

It's what some are calling a super blue blood moon eclipse.

"It's quite a mouthful," said Megan Glover, a lecturer at UPEI.

Breaking down the term makes it easier to understand, she said.

Supermoon closest to Earth

The term "supermoon" refers to when the moon is full, Glover said, and happens when the moon is closest to Earth during its orbit.

Because our moon doesn't orbit Earth in perfect circles, the size varies depending on its location around the planet.

Supermoons appear closer and brighter than regular moons. (Noah Silliman/unsplash.com)

"I think I've seen this time it's going to be seven per cent bigger, so not really big enough that you would actually notice with the naked eye, and maybe 10 per cent or so brighter," Glover said.

The moon will look its largest near the horizon, and that's because of what Glover calls the "moon illusion."

"The moon looks nearer to you because it's nearer other objects that you have a size perspective on — buildings, trees — but it doesn't change size as it goes higher in the sky."

Blue moon not about colour

The term "blue moon" won't actually have anything to do with the its colour, it's all about timing.

Glover said blue moons occur once every two to three years and happens when there are two full moons in the same calendar month. This year there was a full moon on Jan. 1 and there will be another on Jan. 31.

Blood moon has reddish colour

The term "blood" does, however, reflect the colour of the moon.

The moon will set on P.E.I. before the total lunar eclipse, but UPEI lecturer Megan Glover says we'll have another chance in January 2019. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

"During a total lunar eclipse, the moon can turn red when the darkest part of the Earth's shadow falls on the moon," Glover explained.

That means the only light that's reaching the moon from the sun is light that's coming through the atmosphere of the Earth.

"It's going through the Earth's atmosphere at a really long, shallow angle, so the bluer light gets scattered away and it leaves the red light behind."

Will we see it?

To top everything off, the super blue blood moon will undergo a total lunar eclipse, promising for a pretty spectacular show — if you can see it.

But Glover said it's unlikely we'll see much of it in P.E.I.

"The moon is just setting as the eclipse really gets rolling for us at 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m.," she said. "You might start to see a little reddish, orange on the edge of the moon, but you would have to have a very clear western horizon."

As the sun rises, it will be harder to see the moon, she added.

Islanders won't get another chance until January 2019, when the next total lunar eclipse is scheduled.

now