Lunar eclipse, meteor shower treat Canadians this weekend

Two cosmic events, a penumbral lunar eclipse Friday and a meteor shower on Sunday, are making for an interesting weekend in Canadian skies.

Penumbral lunar eclipse Friday, Orionid meteor shower Sunday night

An astronomer observes the Orionids at a Bulgaria observatory in 2009. Sunday night to dawn on Monday will be the peak of this year's Orionid meteor shower. (Petar Petrov/Associated Press)

Two cosmic events, a penumbral lunar eclipse Friday and a meteor shower on Sunday, are making for an interesting weekend in Canadian skies.

Sunday night to dawn on Monday will be the peak of the Orionid meteor shower. 

"In the darker hours, look towards [the constellation] Orion the hunter, generally in the southeast sky" and it will appear that meteors are coming from Orion's club, said Colin Haig, vice-president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

The meteor shower will peak at 10 to 20 meteors per hour just before dawn on Monday, according to Unfortunately, the brightness of the full moon will make the meteors difficult to see for most Canadians. 

Penumbral lunar eclipse

Though the moon will detract somewhat from that cosmic show, it provided one of its own earlier this weekend.

Just before 8 p.m. ET Friday, the bottom half of the full moon was darkened by the Earth's shadow during the penumbral lunar eclipse.

The Earth's shadow has two distinct regions: A very dark, central region called the umbra, and a diffuse outer region called the penumbra.

The penumbra caused the moon to get dimmer Friday night until about two-thirds of the moon was cloaked in shadow at 8:50 p.m. People in Eastern Canada could see the entire event, weather permitting, but it was well underway at moonrise for those in Central and Western Canada. The penumbral eclipse was subtle but still noticeable to anyone who stopped to take a look.

Even subtle eclipses can "help people understand that our solar system is in motion," Haig said. "It’s a fairly rare event, a couple times a year at best and it happens in a matter of a few hours."

People in Eastern Canada will be able to see the entire penumbral lunar eclipse, but it will be well underway Friday night at moonrise for people in Central and Western Canada. (Fred Espenak/Royal Astronomical Society of Canada)


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