Outer space is expected to put on quite a show for us Earthlings tonight.
When you look up at the sky later, you’ll notice that the full moon will look a little reddish in colour. You can thank a total lunar eclipse for that. But skywatchers willing to stay up late tonight will be treated to something even better: the Draconid meteor shower.
Light from the full moon usually blocks any chance of viewing the annual event, but the eclipse is expected to dim everything up enough for the streaking meteors to be seen. And the timing couldn’t be better in this case, because the meteor shower peaks tonight.
Plus, lunar eclipses can be viewed with the naked eye, so you don’t have to worry about bringing any special equipment.
There is one downside though. As mentioned before, you’ll have to stay up pretty late to see the show, and most of Eastern Canada may not even get the chance. Earth’s shadow will only begin to pass over the moon at 1:15 a.m. PT or 4:15 a.m. ET, which is after moonset for our Maritime friends. The total lunar eclipse, meanwhile, will begin even later at 3:15 a.m. PT or 6:15 a.m. ET, and will last about an hour.
But if you are living on the East side, the best way to increase your chances of seeing the meteor shower is to find a spot with a clear view of the southwestern horizon. For Canadians across the country, try to get a photograph of the moon with a zoom lens. It’ll be the best Facebook picture you’ll post for a while.
Now get stargazing! The next lunar eclipse isn’t expected until April 2015.