Technology & Science

Supermoon total lunar eclipse offers rare sky event

Stargazers are about to get a double celestial treat when a total lunar eclipse coincides with a supermoon.

Watch the celestial event live via NASA starting at 8 p.m. ET

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      Stargazers are about to get a double celestial treat when a total lunar eclipse coincides with a supermoon. 

      Those in Canada, the United States, Europe, Africa and western Asia can view the rare coupling, weather permitting, Sunday night or early Monday.

      CBC is carrying NASA's live video stream of the event from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

      NASA's solar physicist Mitzi Adams will also discuss the eclipse and answer questions from Twitter with the hashtag #askNASA. 

      It's the first time the events have made a twin appearance since 1982, and they won't meet again until 2033.

      When a full moon makes its closest approach to Earth, it appears bigger and brighter than usual and is known as a supermoon.

      That will coincide with a full lunar eclipse where the moon, Earth and sun will be lined up, with Earth's shadow totally obscuring the moon.

      NASA released some helpful animations to explain the event.


      When you can see Sunday night's eclipse across Canada

      The following times are averages for the listed regions and will vary somewhat depending on exact location.

      Halifax/East Coast: At 9:11 p.m. AT on Sunday, the penumbral eclipse begins, when the Earth's partial shadow starts to touch the moon's face. At 10:07, the partial eclipse starts and the moon will begin to become red. Total eclipse starts at 11:11 p.m., peaks at 11:47 p.m. and ends at 12:23 a.m. The whole show will be over by 2:22 a.m. Look for the moon between about 23 and 45 degrees up from the horizon.

      Montreal/Toronto/Ottawa: The penumbral eclipse begins at 8:11 p.m. ET. At 9:07, the partial eclipse starts. Total eclipse starts at 10:11, peaks at 10:47 and ends at 11:23 p.m. The whole show will be over by 1:22 a.m. The spectacle will begin fairly low on the horizon, at about 12 to 15 degrees depending on location, while during its peak the eclipse will be between 36 and 38 degrees degrees above the horizon.

      Prairies: Viewers in the Prairies will miss some of the preshow because the moon will still be below the horizon for the early penumbral stage. The partial eclipse, when the moon will start turning red, begins at 8:07 p.m. CT in Winnipeg and 7:07 p.m. CST in Regina and Saskatoon, where it will be particularly close to the eastern horizon. Total eclipse starts at 9:11 in Winnipeg and 8:11 in Regina and Saskatoon, peaks at 9:47 and 8:47, respectively, and ends at 10:23 CT and 9:23 CST. Try to watch from an area without tall buildings or trees to the east and southeast, because the eclipse won't be high in the sky.  

      Calgary/Edmonton: The sun won't set, and the moon won't rise, until after the eclipse has begun, so viewers in Alberta will miss the early part of the show. Moonrise is around 7:20 p.m. MT, when the moon will already be partially eclipsed. Total eclipse starts at 8:11, peaks at 8:47 and ends at 9:23 p.m. The whole thing will be over by 11:22 p.m. Be sure to find a viewing spot with a clear sightline, because at its peak, the eclipse will appear only about 12 degrees above the southeastern horizon.

      Vancouver: Don't expect to see any of the preliminaries on the West Coast. The celestial show will only barely be visible just above the eastern horizon as the total eclipse is already beginning, around 7:11 p.m. PT. It will peak at 7:47 – when it will be just seven degrees above the horizon – and end at 8:23, with the closing penumbral stages over by 10:22 p.m.

      with files from CBC News

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