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Lunar Eclipse - May 15-16, 2022

A total lunar eclipse will take place during the night of Sunday, May 15 to Monday, May 16, 2022. Although visible from almost anywhere in Canada (except for the far North), people in the West are privileged with the event happening in the evening instead of the middle of the night for people further east. In British Columbia and Yellowknife (NWT), the Moon will rise already eclipsed, resulting in a beautiful dark red moonrise!



What is a lunar eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth (called the umbra). This phenomenon can only occur on full moon nights since that is when the alignment is perfect for an eclipse.


alignement of Sun, Earth and Moon during a lunar eclipse
During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon is completely in the shadow (umbra) of the Earth. Image not to scale. Credit: Discover the Universe


What will we see?

The eclipse takes place over a period of a few hours. The eclipse officially begins when the Moon enters the penumbra of the Earth while moving in its orbit. However, this change in luminosity is hardly perceptible to the eye. For most people, the real show begins when the Moon slowly enters the Earth's shadow. A part of the Moon then seems to be missing since it is no longer illuminated by the Sun. This is the partial eclipse.



Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio



For people in the Eastern time zone, the partial eclipse will begin at 10:28 p.m. and progress until 11:29 p.m., when the Moon will be completely in Earth's shadow. This is the total eclipse. During the total eclipse, the Moon is still visible but much darker. It often takes on an orange-red hue. The total eclipse will last until 12:54 a.m. when the Moon will start leaving the Earth's shadow for the end of the partial eclipse at 1:55 a.m.


For people in the West, the Moon will rise already in total eclipse around 8:45 p.m. The total eclipse will last until 9:53 p.m. and then the partial eclipse will be visible until 10:55 p.m. when the Moon will have left the shadow of the Earth.




To get the exact times for your location, you can use timeanddate.com or simply convert from the image above to your time zone, by adding or subtracting hours.



Is it dangerous to observe a lunar eclipse?

No! Since we are looking at the Moon, the observation is completely safe. It is dangerous to observe the Sun, including during a solar eclipse, but the Moon is always safe.



A little late to observe, but still a good opportunity for education!

It will probably be difficult for many students to observe this eclipse but don't hesitate to talk about it in class. Here are some resources to help you:


Questions to investigate with your students

Most of the answers are in the PowerPoint and video links above!

  • Why do lunar eclipses only happen at full moon?

  • Why don't we have eclipses every month?

  • What's the difference between a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse?

  • When is the next eclipse visible from your location?

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