Eyes on the skies: GTA awaits supermoon, total lunar eclipse combo

Across the GTA this weekend, preparations are underway to help people witness the rare combination of a total lunar eclipse and a supermoon.

Rare combination won't happen again until 2033

A group of hikers are seen silhouetted against a supermoon in Tijuana, Mexico, in August. (Jorge Duenes/Reuters)

Across the GTA this weekend, preparations are underway to help people witness the rare combination of a total lunar eclipse and a supermoon.

The full eclipse of the moon will last more than an hour on Sunday night and be visible in the Toronto area low on the horizon, weather permitting. A partial lunar eclipse begins at 9:07. Total eclipse starts at 10:11, peaks at 10:47 and ends at 11:23 p.m.  

York University will host Luna Palooza, which will be free to the public. The event will start at 8 p.m. and run until midnight at the York University Observatory and PanAm Stadium.

"This will be the last total lunar eclipse visible from southern Ontario until January 2018," officials with the York University Observatory said in a media release.

The combination of a total eclipse and a supermoon – or harvest moon – hasn't been seen since 1982 and won't happen again until 2033.

When a full or new moon makes its closest approach to Earth, that's a supermoon. Although still about 354,000 kilometres away, this full moon will look bigger and brighter than usual. In fact, it will be the closest full moon of the year, about 48,000 km closer than the average distance. (The moon's orbit is far from a perfect circle.)

The Ontario Science Centre will be hosting Total Lunar Eclipse: A Celestial Celebration, from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. on Sunday.

'Brightest, largest full moon of the year'

"Witness the spectacle of the brightest and largest full moon of the year as it moves into the Earth's shadow and becomes bright red," the Science Centre said in a media release.

Also Sunday, the University of Toronto will host a Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing Party.

The event, organized by the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics will include having telescopes on the lawn of King's College Circle downtown.

This weekend's eclipse marks the end of a series of four total lunar eclipses happening six months apart. The series began in April 2014.

With files from the Associated Press


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