Category Archives: astronomy

The Supermoon Eclipse — before the clouds eclipsed …

Four of us turned out at Island Lake to hope for clear skies — and we were in luck! Clouds covered the moonrise to the east, but the cloud-free western skies for sunset gave us hope. In the meantime, 5 cormorants flew to roost nearby in a remarkably flimsy dead tree, swaying in the light breezes. Muskrats dove in front of us, surfacing with winter vegetative clumps on which they munched while lying on the surface. At least three Killdeer called repetitively amongst themselves. Two Great Blue Herons foraged successfully in the shallows right beside us long into darkness.



The clouds stayed off low along the horizon to the east as the Moon rose above them. Shafts of high thin altocumulus rose westwards out of the bank of clouds. These shafts of cloud alternately covered and uncovered the eclipsing Moon, providing some gorgeous opportunities for photos. My trusty smartphone was pushed to its limits in this low light, but this next photo at least partly captures the atmosphere.

Streaks of clouds lit by the eclipsing Moon at Island Lake

Streaks of clouds lit by the eclipsing Moon at Island Lake (photo by Mark Whitcombe)

A surprising number of people were still out, even at 10 P.M. when the clouds finally eclipsed the slightly-over-half eclipsed Moon. So we saw the reddening as the cloud entered the umbral shadow of the Earth beginning at 9:11 P.M.  But we didn’t see the full eclipse. The clouds ultimately won …

The clouds won the eclipse show …

The clouds won the eclipse show …  (photo by Mark Whitcombe)

When I asked at the UCFNC meeting the next Tuesday, about 20 people put up their hands to say that they had seen at least some part of this impressive natural event, almost all directly from their homes. Nice!

(by Mark Whitcombe)





Supermoon Eclipse this Sunday September 27th!

There is a special eclipse of the Moon Sunday evening, and despite the forecast of some cloud during the early evening hours, and the possibility of rain overnight, I’m going to head out to see it! Perhaps it will be cloudy, perhaps there may even be some showers, but I’m hopeful that there’s going to be either light enough cloud to see something worthwhile, or that there may actually be a break in the clouds during the critical hours just after dark as some weather models show.

You are invited to join me. I’m going to park at Home Hardware and walk across Highway #10 at the lights. Once across the road, I go through the ‘gates’ and turn left along the new path that heads northwards parallel to the highway. I’m going to go close to the end of the first long bridge, which is about half a kilometre of easy flat walking.

Sunset is at 7:09 pm local time, and the full moon will rise at 7:01 pm and we’ll be looking at it across the lake — which should be quite lovely. As you can see from the attached graphic, at 9:07 pm, the Moon will begin to be eclipsed by the umbra of the Earth (the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow. This will likely be the first time that noticeable changes to the Moon will occur. Perigee, the closest approach of the Moon to the Earth, is at 9:46 pm. The Moon is full, i.e., in direct opposition to the Sun, at 10:50 pm, and totality will begin ending at 11:23 pm, with all visible changes likely gone by 12:27 am on Monday morning.


Fred Espinak’s excellent graphic of the Supermoon Eclipse

I’m aiming to be out at the lake by about 7:00 pm, warmly enough dressed and with a lawn chair, binoculars, camera, tripod, and several flashlights. I’ll stay until conditions are too poor to see anything — or until the eclipse is over … You are welcome to come any time, and to leave any time. You will be responsible for getting yourself to where I’ll be viewing the eclipse. I’ll not be waiting anywhere other than at my chosen viewing position. The peak time will be from 9 pm to midnight. Perhaps you might poke your head out the door several times as the evening progresses, and make your decisions to whether to wander out and join me!