VANCOUVER — Stargazers across Canada were in for a two-for-one treat Sunday night with the rare confluence of a total lunar eclipse with a so-called supermoon.
A supermoon occurs when a full or new moon makes its closest approach to the Earth and appears slightly larger and brighter than normal.
Jeff Smith was able to enjoy the unique event from the comfort and vantage of his apartment on Canada’s East Coast, which also happened to be located in the tallest building in Halifax.
“I’m pretty excited. I love this sort of thing,” said the British native, who was living in Nova Scotia for school. “The reflection on the harbour in Halifax is gorgeous.”
He watched the Earth’s shadow begin to creep across the moon’s surface, describing the experience as awe-inspiring.
His earlier attempts to photograph the lunar phenomenon were unsuccessful, he said: “It’s too bright. Unless you’ve got a really top-end camera it comes out like the sun.”
Meanwhile, Jeff Smith chose to take his family to the top of the Centennial Park ski hill in Etobicoke, Ont., to absorb the view, albeit under slightly cloudier circumstances.
While the weather made for less-than-perfect picture-taking opportunities, Smith was more philosophical when reflecting on the degree of excitement that had built up through social media for the relatively rare celestial occurrence.
“It’s one of those things that sort of brings people down to Earth, ” he mused. “It’s a little humbling if you get out and appreciate it for what it is.”
The weather was even less co-operative in Calgary, where cloud cover prevented many from taking in the sight.
The city’s social media-savvy mayor, Naheed Nenshi, took to Twitter to comment dryly on the overcast skies, prompting invitations to join other moongazers elsewhere in the country.
No such viewing troubles were to be had in Manitoba, where Todd Scott watched the show from Grand Marais, about 100 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
“It’s perfectly clear. The light has just been fantastic. There are waves coming off the lake you can hear on the marsh. The birds are chirping away,” he said.
“You can see the shadow slowly coming over the moon, almost like the edge of a finger on a photograph.”
As the moon was eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow on Sunday it also turned a reddish colour, an eerie wonder known as a Blood Moon.
The timing of the eclipse was good for most parts of Canada, but those on the West Coast missed the initial stages because the moon was lower in the sky.
The next total eclipse won’t happen until 2018, and the next total eclipse of a supermoon won’t happen until 2033.
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Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press