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The Sky This Month - May 2022

Total Lunar Eclipse

On the night of May 15/16, North America will witness a wonderful cosmic lineup. Occurring twice and sometimes three times each year, the sun, earth and moon geometrically align to produce either a solar or lunar eclipse. This does not happen each month as the moon orbits earth on a slight tilt of five degrees. Some months the full moon will be positioned above or below the cone of darkness projected by the earth’s shadow.

For this month’s event, the Atlantic, eastern and central time zones will experience the entire eclipse while mountain and western time zones will see the eclipse already in progress at moonrise. The first portion of the eclipse is the outer zone of the shadow called the penumbral eclipse. This turns the moon into a slightly darker shade of grey. After 55 minutes the moon then enters the more dramatic umbral phase, progressively getting darker as time marches on.

Upon totality, the lunar surface turns a burnt-orange or coral colour. Commonly referred to as the “Blood Moon”, superstition caused people to view the eclipse in utter fear. Some civilizations saw it as a sign of death while others believed it was the prediction of a king being overthrown. The ancient Inca people would shake their spears and shout to scare off the jaguar they thought was eating the moon. Of course, it always worked. Even Christopher Columbus used the knowledge of the predicted 1504 total lunar eclipse to save his shipwrecked crew from starvation. He tricked the chief of the local tribe into thinking there were special powers in motion.
 

The orange colour is simply sunlight passing through the earth’s atmosphere much like we enjoy lovely red sunsets. If you were on the moon, you would see an orange colours ring around the earth, witnessing every sunset and the left-hand side and every sunrise on the right at the same time. The second total eclipse seen from North America will take place on November 8 with the western part of the country seeing the entire event. With the moon being in the constellation Libra, the glorious Milky Way is located to the left. This will set the scene for superb astrophotography. Best results would include using a DSLR camera on a tripod. Attach a cable release and set the camera to the manual setting. Experiment with a few seconds of exposure and longer. With the three celestial bodies lined up, there was a partial solar eclipse back on April 30. It took place over the southeast Pacific and the southern regions of South America.

Newfoundland and Labrador Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 11:57 p.m. Moon enters the earth’s shadow. 
Total lunar eclipse begins: 12:59 a.m. Moon turns dark orange or red. 
Greatest eclipse: 1:41 a.m. Mid-point of the eclipse.
Total lunar eclipse ends: 2:23 a.m. Moon begins to leave the shadow. 
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 3:25 a.m. Moon completely exits earth’s shadow. 

Atlantic Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 11:27 p.m. Moon enters the earth’s shadow. 
Total lunar eclipse begins: 12:29 a.m. Moon turns dark orange or red. 
Greatest eclipse: 1:11 a.m. Mid-point of the eclipse.
Total lunar eclipse ends: 1:53 a.m. Moon begins to leave the shadow. 
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 2:55 a.m. Moon exits earth’s shadow. 

Eastern Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 10:27 p.m. Moon enters the earth’s shadow. 
Total lunar eclipse begins: 11:29 p.m. Moon turns dark orange or red. 
Greatest eclipse: 12:11 a.m. Mid-point of the eclipse.
Total lunar eclipse ends: 12:53 a.m. Moon begins to leave the shadow. 
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 1:55 a.m. Moon completely exits earth’s shadow. 

Central Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 9:27 p.m. Moon enters the earth’s shadow. 
Total lunar eclipse begins: 10:29 p.m. Moon turns dark orange or red. 
Greatest eclipse: 11:11 p.m. Mid-point of the eclipse.
Total lunar eclipse ends: 11:53 p.m. Moon begins to leave the shadow. 
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 12:55 a.m. Moon exits earth’s shadow. 

Mountain Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 8:27 p.m. Moon enters the earth’s shadow. 
Total lunar eclipse begins: 9:29 p.m. Moon turns dark orange or red. 
Greatest eclipse: 10:11 p.m. Mid-point of the eclipse.
Total lunar eclipse ends: 10:53 p.m. Moon begins to leave the shadow. 
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 11:55 p.m. Moon exits earth’s shadow. 

Pacific Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 7:27 p.m. Moon will rise as the eclipse begins. 
Total lunar eclipse begins: 8:29 p.m. Moon turns dark orange or red. 
Greatest eclipse: 9:11 p.m. Mid-point of the eclipse.
Total lunar eclipse ends: 9:53 p.m. Moon begins to leave the shadow. 
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 10:55 p.m. Moon exits earth’s shadow. 

The morning sky is alive with planets. Starting very close to the eastern horizon and as dawn begins to lighten the sky, look for brilliant Venus. Moving to the upper right are Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. For the first few days in May, Mercury can be seen in the west after sunset and near the Pleiades star cluster. It will then begin to sink into the solar glare once again. A great digital moment will occur in the evening of May 2 and 3rd as the thin crescent moon will be close to the planet and cluster. Here is a great perspective to distance as the light of the moon will reach us in 1.3 light seconds, Mercury in about 6.5 light minutes and the Pleiades in 450 light-years.

May 7 is the spring edition of International Astronomy Day with the fall celebration in October. This is the time astronomy clubs around the world get to share the night sky with the general public. This would consist of indoor displays and outdoor daytime solar viewing and nighttime star parties. However, because of the ongoing COVID pandemic, activities have been modified so check with your local Centre or club on festivities.  

Until next month, clear skies everyone.

Gary Boyle

Author: Gary BoyleeNews date: Sunday, May 1, 2022Category: Northern SkiesFile:  Total eclipse ver 3.jpgTweet::  Pages

Rudolph Dorner (1948-2022)

In March of this year, Rudolph Dorner, the founder of the Dorner Telescope Museum (DTM), passed away. It was Rudolph’s generosity of spirit, generosity of conception, and generosity of pocket which is bringing forth the museum. He had a long-standing fascination with the optical devices which reveal something of the universe to us, and that interest was far from an armchair one. He also had great respect for the combination of ingenious minds, discriminating eyes, and skilled hands which crafted those instruments.

A strong believer in the power of narrative, he was concerned that much of the story of the telescope in Canada was in danger of not being told, particularly the stories of many resourceful amateur telescope makers. The solution he envisioned was an institution devoted solely to telling that story, and preserving the materials for doing so. His vision of a Canadian telescope museum is one which enables visitors to experience the real physicality of the artifacts, which means as much as possible dissolving the display cases separating viewers from the objects, and permitting them where possible to observe through the instruments. Working out how to do that is one of the challenges in realizing his legacy, but it’s a challenge very much worth meeting.

Rudolph honoured the RASC by choosing us as the organization to realize his vision.

His loss is keenly felt by those who enjoyed his companionable presence when observing, by the innovative telescope makers who enjoyed his active patronage—enabling them to take on new challenges, and by the many observers who benefitted from his generosity. The museum he created will allow something of his characteristic approach to astronomy to live on.

—R.A.R.

Author: R.A.R.eNews date: Thursday, March 17, 2022Category: AnnouncementsTweet::  Pages