NEWS

Lunar eclipse, meteor shower treat Canadians this weekend

10/18/2013 10:08 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
Two cosmic events, a partial lunar eclipse tonight and a meteor shower on Sunday, will make it worth your while this weekend to cast a glance at the night sky.

Starting just before 8 p.m. ET Friday, the bottom half of the full moon will be darkened by the Earth's shadow during the partial lunar eclipse.

The Earth's shadow has two distinct regions: A very dark, central region called the umbra, and a diffuse outer region called the penumbra.

The penumbra will cause the moon to get dimmer Friday night until about two-thirds of the moon is cloaked in shadow at 8:50 p.m. People in Eastern Canada will be able to see the entire event, but it will be well underway at moonrise for those in Central and Western Canada. This partial eclipse will be subtle but still noticeable to anyone who stops to take a look.

- Shadows in the sky: All about eclipses

Even subtle eclipses can "help people understand that our solar system is in motion," said Colin Haig, vice-president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. "It’s a fairly rare event, a couple times a year at best and it happens in a matter of a few hours."

Sunday night to dawn on Monday will be the peak of the Orionid meteor shower. 

- Meteor shower calendar

"In the darker hours, look towards [the constellation] Orion the hunter, generally in the southeast sky," says Haig, and it will appear that meteors are coming from Orion's club. 

The meteor shower will peak at 10 to 20 meteors per hour just before dawn on Monday, according to Earthsky.org. Unfortunately, the brightness of the full moon will make the meteors difficult to see for most Canadians. 

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