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Total lunar eclipse happening Jan. 20

Get to a wide-open area for a great view of the sky
Total lunar eclipse
During totality, the moon will turn a copper-orange colour. Image: Gary Boyle

Richmondites and others in the Lower Mainland will be treated to a view of a total lunar eclipse on Sunday, Jan. 20.

Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is safe to look at with the naked eye. The sun, earth and moon will line up perfectly so that the moon slips into the earth’s shadow.

You won’t even have to stay up late, because the show conveniently begins at 7:34 p.m. Pacific Time when the moon creates a partial umbral eclipse by edging into earth’s shadow.

The moon will continue deeper into the shadow, and the total eclipse begins at 8:41 p.m. The greatest eclipse happens at 9:12 p.m., before the moon moves on. 

The whole thing will be over by 10:51 p.m.

All of North America will be able to see this eclipse if there’s a clear sky. British Columbians should try to catch it because the next one (happening May 16, 2022) will only be visible to the central and eastern parts of Canada.

During totality, the moon’s surface will turn a copper-orange colour due to the sunlight refracting through our atmosphere.

“If you were on the moon, you would see an orange ring around the earth. From this vantage point you would see every sunset on the left side of the earth along with every sunrise on the right side at the same time,” Ottawa-based astronomer Gary Boyle said in a release.

It’s best to view the eclipse anywhere there is minimal light pollution. Any large park in Richmond will do; local astronomers recommend Delta’s Boundary Bay.

The long-term forecast calls for a mix of clear skies and cloud that night, but it could change closer to the date.