If the skies are clear on Sunday night, the Edmontonians will be able to go out to a different light show, as a total lunar eclipse will create a blood-red moon in the night sky.
The eclipse will begin at 8:30 p.m. and ending shortly before midnight, with a 62-minute period starting at 9:41 am, said Frank Florian, planetary director for Telus World of Science, in a Monday interview on CBC Radio. Edmonton AM.
"It does not happen at three in the morning or something, so it's an opportunity for people to look outside and look at the red moon in the sky," Florian said.
During a lunar eclipse, the moon passes through a shadow projected into space by the Earth. A total eclipse, visible only half the world, occurs when the dark central part of the shadow obscures the entire surface of the moon, leaving a bright red ring.
Total lunar eclipses usually happen once every three years, but this weekend's event is the second in relatively rapid succession, Florian said.
However, few people were able to take advantage of the latter, which was visible in Edmonton in January 2018.
"It happened very early in the morning, around four o'clock in the morning. So there were not many people out there," he said.
"And it was also minus thirty. So it was kind of a very cold eclipse."
Telus World of Science will hold eclipse-related events starting at 5:30 p.m. including opportunities to see the night sky of the RASC Observatory and other telescopes to be installed. The IMAX Movie First man, on the Apollo 11 mission, will run and there will be special shows on the Zeidler Dome explaining "the geometry of eclipses," both solar and lunar.
Florian noted that the partial solar eclipse experienced at Edmonton in August 2017 was a remarkably more important event – mainly because the passage of the moon in front of the sun happens much more rarely.
"If we want to see one here in Edmonton, from a total solar eclipse, we will have to wait until the year 2044, the month of August, early in the evening," he said. "As you can see, these things are much rarer."
A lunar eclipse does not require people to travel out of town to see it, but Florian said it would help.
When the moon is full, it casts a lot of light, which creates its own luminous pollution, hiding some of the weaker stars, he said. But during a total eclipse, the moon darkens – and so does the sky.
"You will be able to see all the stars around the silhouette of the red moon, which contributes to a very pleasant sight."