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Total lunar eclipse Jan. 31

If you missed it this morning, don't worry, another "blue moon" is coming in a few short months

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Despite the clichéd saying “once in a blue moon”, the lunar phenomenon, which some may have witnessed this morning, may not be as rare as many believe.

A total lunar eclipse will occur on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 31. With this being the second full moon of the same month, it is also known as a ‘blue moon’.

Gary Boyle, an Ottawa resident who is known as “The Backyard Astronomer”, says on average ‘blue moon’ events occur roughly every 26 months.

And if you missed this the Jan. 31 event, never fear. Remarkably, there will be another ‘blue moon’ in just over a month on Thursday, March 1.

The instance of two total lunar eclipses in one year will not occur again until 2037.

Boyle explains that Oshawa residents, being in the Eastern Standard Time zone, will not get to witness the full magnificence of this week’s lunar eclipse.

“Unfortunately here in Ontario, you will only see a small bit coming from the left-hand side,” he says.

He estimates those in Ontario will be able to witness the partial eclipse around 6:48 a.m. on Jan. 31, although weather may affect visibility.

Despite happening in the early morning hours, Boyle says it is an event to behold, nonetheless.

“Whenever you can see Mother Nature in motion, it’s something to enjoy with the entire family,” Boyle says.

Despite the name, sky watchers may be disappointed to learn the moon won’t actually turn blue.

However, Boyle explains this has occurred in the past as an effect of ash and smoke in the earth’s atmosphere after large forest fires.

One particular example of this was in September 1950, after several large muskeg fires in western Canada produced heavy smoke. The smoke quickly travelled to the east and south, creating the appearance of a true ‘blue moon’ to some living in eastern parts of Canada and the U.S., and later, Britain.

 

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