lunar eclipse

Toronto skies could see comet and lunar eclipse this weekend

It's going to be one hell of a weekend for skywatchers in Toronto. There will be a full moon, a lunar eclipse, and you might even be able to see a comet if you know what you're doing. Let's just hope the weather cooperates with clear skies.

The action gets underway on Friday just after 5:30 p.m. when the moon rises in the east. As of 5:36, a penumbral lunar eclipse will begin to cast the face of the moon in an eerie darkness.

It'll reach its maximum point at 7:44 pm. when the sky has become fully dark and the effect of the eclipse is more noticeable. By 9:53 p.m., the show will be over.

This is the most subtle lunar eclipse there is, as it doesn't block the luminosity of the moon altogether, but merely reduces it while Earth's penumbral shadow passes its face.

The effect is, however, strange to witness, particularly for those who take notice of the moon on a regular basis and who have a good sense of its typical brightness.

Significantly harder to spot, but arguably more alluring is what's been dubbed the New Year comet (technically 45P/Honda–Mrkos–Pajdušáková), which will be closest to Earth of Saturday, February 11th.

Alas, it will not be visible to the naked eye, but experienced photographers and amateur astronomers might be able to find it with binoculars and small telescopes.

There's already images of this comet coming in, which look incredibly cool. It won't look as stunning to the human eye thanks to increased moonlight as it makes its pass, but plenty of amateur photographers have managed to capture it.

As is the case with the Northern Lights and meteor storms, to have a fighting chance to see this comet, you'll have to get to an area where there's basically no light pollution.

Should you be able to manage that, you can use various guides to determine where to look for the mysterious green object in the pre-dawn sky.

Lead photo by

Richard Orr


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