September 22, 2020

By Jenna Brauneksupermoon

The constellations shifting west are one way to signify the arrival of fall.

For star gazers, Sept. 27 was a particularly special night. People of all ages bundled up and headed to Waterloo Park, awaiting nightfall.

Kitchener-Waterloo’s Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (KW-RASC) hosted a “star party” at the park in celebration of Astronomy Day, a worldwide event observed each spring and fall. It was also a perfect time to view the rare lunar eclipse.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into Earth’s shadow and appears darkened. This lunar eclipse was a full super moon lunar eclipse combination which is quite uncommon; it hasn’t occurred since 1982 and won’t occur again until 2033.

According to www.space.com, a super moon is a full moon at perigee (the point in orbit of the moon when it is nearest to Earth). The moon appears abnormally large; 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than apogee full moons (farthest from Earth).

It is also nicknamed “blood moon” for its bright red glow.

“Every sunset on Earth is refracted, making (the moon) extremely red,” said Stephen Holmes, a KW-RASC member.

There were quite a few clouds obstructing the view of the blood moon, but astronomy lovers came out regardless. KW-RASC members brought several telescopes to the park so visitors could take a better look. Star constellations and even Saturn are usually visible this time of year.

“KW-RASC’s mission is to encourage inquiries and questions about our universe,” said Holmes. “We think it’s important to know what’s out there. Earth is just a tiny pebble.”

According to Holmes, the club has been operating since the early 1900s. KW-RASC members don’t have to be scientists, only individuals with a passion for astronomy.

“When I was a young fella, I spent many nights on the roof of my parents’ house, star gazing,” said Holmes.

The astronomy enthusiast said KW-RASC offers informative public meetings, free of charge, as well as an observational beginner’s stargazing 101 club.

“We get a thrill, standing under the night sky,” he said. “I like to think people (left) with a better understanding of what Earth’s place in the universe is.”

 

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