Celestial event brings supermoon, tides and eclipse to Victoria

Celestial event brings supermoon, tides and eclipse to Victoria

WATCH: If you are an early, bird, look out to the western skies on Wednesday morning. At about 3 a.m. Pacific time, the moon will look as though it’s a giant rose in the sky. It’s a rare celestial event that hasn’t happened since 1866: a “super blue blood” moon. And as Mary Griffin reports, it makes for a spectacular sky, and wave watching.

Standing on top of Saanich’s Mount Tolmie, amateur astronomer Ken Mallory knows exactly where to look.

“It’ll probably be southwest. Or the west will be the best to view,” Mallory said.

That location is where a unique combination will be unfolding in the sky: a perfect alignment of the moon, earth, and the sun.  The lunar trifecta is otherwise known as a super blue blood moon.

Mallory, with other members of Victoria’s Royal Astronomical Society, will on top of Mount Tolmie watching.

“It’s always exciting to see astronomical events especially when it’s your hobby,” Mallory said.

It will be a blue moon because it’s the second full moon in January. It’s also a supermoon, as it’s closer to Earth than usual so larger, and brighter than usual. And then finally, it’s a lunar eclipse, so the moon will turn into a red, blood moon.

And the celestial alignment will impact the earth as well, according to Dr. Richard Dewey, associate director of science services at the University of Victoria?s Ocean Networks Canada.

“That means we’re going to get an eclipse. So it’s perfect alignment for all the astrophysical forcing of tides, so as a result, we get these really big tides,” Dr. Dewey said.

Those spring, or king, tides are now the highest of the year. And with the wind pushing water onshore, it’ll produce huge surf, especially on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

“All along our beaches, the logs will be lifted, and we should take caution,” Dr. Dewey said. “But on west Vancouver Island, the surf is really going to be pounding. The winds coming up over the next 24 hours so, it’s a cautionary time.”

While the large waves from last week’s storm are not expected in the area, the District of Tofino has issued an extreme wave advisory and is warning of possible upper-shoreline flooding for the Pacific Rim region. The district is encouraging anyone to be venturing near the beaches to be cautious.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne said the storms from earlier in the month scoured sand from the beaches and as a result, the waves are running up higher on shore.  Osborne said there is a well-known car near Frank Island on Chesterman Beach was left to be buried by the sand and waves in the 1960s, and occasionally its tires poked out of the sand.  But since the storms, much of the vehicle is now exposed.

The lunar eclipse begins at 2:51 a.m.

Mallory will be up early to watch it all unfold.

“Uou’ve got to get up early and watch it. If you are working, get up a little earlier, and see if you can see it. It’s always thrilling to see a blood, red moon,” Mallory said.

For more information on the best times to view the eclipse, go to the website for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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