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BU observatory to open overnight for lunar eclipse

The moon rises over the Brandon University observatory in this file photo.

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The moon rises over the Brandon University observatory in this file photo. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)

The first in a series of four lunar eclipses will happen tonight, with clear skies giving Brandon a perfect view of the night sky.

Tonight's will be the first total lunar eclipse visible from Brandon since 2011, and is the first in a series of four over the next year and a half.

Lunar eclipse

The moon will go into the Earth's shadow in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. The BU observatory will be open to skywatchers starting at 8 p.m. on Monday for viewing, with volunteers staffing the door, at the base of McMaster Hall, until 10 p.m. If you plan to arrive after that, please email the observatory at BUAO@BrandonU.CA or contact their Facebook page to let them know to greet you.

  • Partial umbral eclipse begins: 12:58 a.m. CDT
  • Total eclipse begins: 2:07 a.m. CDT
  • Greatest eclipse: 2:46 a.m. CDT
  • Total eclipse ends: 3:25 a.m. CDT
  • Partial eclipse ends: 4:33 a.m. CDT

Unlike solar eclipses, a lunar eclipse requires no special viewing equipment and is safe to view with the naked eye.

Skywatchers will be able to see the moon turn red as it enters Earth's shadow for a total of 78 minutes just past 2 a.m. tomorrow morning. The colour comes from the sun's light passing through the Earth's atmosphere on its way to the moon — essentially it is the colour of every sunrise and sunset in the world at the same time.

Although the eclipse should be easily visible from stoops or back decks, dedicated moon buffs also have a chance to get a little bit closer by viewing the eclipse from the Brandon University observatory atop McMaster Hall.

Xisra Winder, the university's community astronomer, says that she is planning to nap all afternoon and stay awake all night, and is planning to have the observatory open from 8 p.m. until possibly dawn, if people are interested in an all-nighter.

Along with the eclipse, the observatory's telescope will also be used to check out Mars, which is at its closest to Earth in six years, and Jupiter.

Eclipse watchers should dress warmly and are allowed to bring any snacks or warm drinks that they desire. Cameras are also welcome.

The next total lunar eclipse visible from Brandon will be Oct. 8, followed by a partial solar eclipse at sunset on Oct. 23.

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