February Public Viewing – CANCELLED

(UPDATE: 8:30AM Feb. 14): Due to the evening forecast calling for partly cloudy skies plus telescope operator illness, tonight’s public viewing is cancelled.

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Our next public viewing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, February 14, from 7:00-9:00PM. (If there are many storm-related closures of UPEI on Thursdays, this date may have to be shifted to accommodate the teaching of an evening laboratory class.)

Our observatory is on the rooftop of UPEI’s Memorial Hall, but we ask that you come first to room 417 to wait for your turn to go up to the telescope (find information on finding Memorial Hall and where to park on campus here).

It is necessary to climb a flight of stairs to reach the telescope, but the elevator can be taken up to the 4th floor waiting room.

Total Lunar Eclipse, January 20-21, 2019

During the night of January 20-21, 2019, the Moon will move into Earth’s shadow – an event known as a lunar eclipse. From our viewing perspective on PEI, we will see the Moon be completely covered by the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow (the “umbra”) and so we will see a “total” lunar eclipse.

When a total lunar eclipse reaches maximum, the Moon often appears red, as illustrated in this photo of a total lunar eclipse on July 27, 2018, photographed by Giuseppe Donatiello of Italy.

When the Moon is in the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, some sunlight reaches the Moon after travelling through Earth’s atmosphere. The blue light gets scattered by the atmosphere so mostly only the red light reaches the Moon’s surface. This reddish appearance is while a total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a “Blood Moon”. If you’d like to learn more about what happens during a lunar eclipse, watch the video below from RASC or read about why there isn’t a lunar eclipse every full Moon and why the Moon appears red during a lunar eclipse on EarthSky.org.

Lunar eclipses are a slow event and they don’t require any special equipment to view them, so they’re a good opportunity to so some backyard astronomy. Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is completely safe to view with the naked eye. If you have binoculars, you may enjoy using them to look at the Moon’s features more closely, especially at the edge of the Earth’s shadow. If you want to photograph the eclipse, read some tips here. Since this eclipse will be happening in the middle of a January night on PEI, your preparations should include dressing very warmly and perhaps a nap earlier in the day.

The website TimeAndDate.com provides a handy timeline of the eclipse and an animation of what it will look like from Charlottetown. Although the eclipse technically begins at 10:36pm, the first “penumbral” phase is very difficult to see (because the Moon is only in the lighter part of the Earth’s shadow, called the “penumbra”). When the darker part of Earth’s shadow starts moving across the Moon at 11:33pm, it will be easily visible as you’ll see the Moon’s surface grow increasingly dark. By 12:41am, the Moon will be completely in the Earth’s shadow and will appear to have a reddish tint. This “total” phase of the eclipse will last until 1:43am. After that, until 2:50am, you can watch the Earth’s shadow move away from the Moon. So even if it’s partly cloudy on the night of the eclipse, each phase lasts long enough that you could possibly watch the eclipse when there’s clear breaks between clouds. If it’s completely overcast, you can watch the eclipse online (you might want to just pop into the live feed now and then because it’s not a fast, dramatic event). Live feeds will be offered by the Virtual Telescope Project and timeanddate.com, among others.

If you have any eclipse questions or would like to share your stories or photos of your viewing experience, we’d enjoy hearing from you. You can find us on Facebook or Twitter.

January Public Viewing

UPDATE (2:15PM Jan 9, 2019): The public viewing is being postponed until Thursday, January 17, from 7:00-8:30PM.
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Our next public viewing is scheduled for Thursday, January 10, from 7:00-8:30PM. (In the event of bad weather, we will postpone to Thursday, January 17.)

Our observatory is on the rooftop of UPEI’s Memorial Hall, but we ask that you come first to room 417 to wait for your turn to go up to the telescope (find information on finding Memorial Hall and where to park on campus here). Volunteers from local astronomy groups and UPEI Physics will be available to answer any astronomy questions for you while you wait.

It is necessary to climb a flight of stairs to reach the telescope, but the elevator can be taken up to the 4th floor waiting room.

November 2018 Public Viewing – CANCELLED

UPDATE (11:50am, Nov. 30): Due to stormy weather and power outages, the postponed viewing was not able to go ahead on November 29. We will post details about our next public viewing shortly.

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UPDATE (9:30am, Nov. 22): With clouds and blowing snow forecast for tonight, we won’t be able to look at the sky. We’re going to postpone again until next Thursday, November 29, from 7:00-8:00PM.

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UPDATE (9:30am, Nov. 15): Due to forecast for cloudy weather this evening, we will postpone our public viewing until next Thursday, November 22, from 7:00-8:00PM.

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Our next public viewing is scheduled for Thursday, November 15, from 6:00-8:00 PM. (In the event of bad weather, we will postpone to Thursday, November 22, from 7:00-8:00PM.)

Our observatory is on the rooftop of UPEI’s Memorial Hall, but we ask that you come first to room 417 to wait for your turn to go up to the telescope (find information on finding Memorial Hall and where to park on campus here). Volunteers from local astronomy groups and UPEI Physics will be available to answer any astronomy questions for you while you wait.

It is necessary to climb a flight of stairs to reach the telescope, but the elevator can be taken up to the 4th floor waiting room.

International Observe the Moon Night 2018 – CANCELLED

UPDATE (Oct. 19): The weather forecast is calling for clouds and rain showers for Saturday, so we will have to cancel our Moon Night. We are scheduling our next telescope session for the evening of November 15; details will be posted on Monday.

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We will once again be participating in International Observe the Moon Night, which takes place this year on October 20. Join us anytime between 7:00-9:00 PM to learn about the Moon and view it through our telescope.

Come to room 417 of Memorial Hall to get started (find information about parking and where to find the building here). There you’ll find Moon maps, models, and an astronomy enthusiast who can answer any of your questions while you wait for your turn to go up to the telescope. All ages are welcome. Please note that it is necessary to climb up one storey of stairs to reach the telescope.

This event is weather dependent. If the sky is too cloudy, we won’t be able to see the Moon. If the event has to be cancelled due to weather, updates will be posted here, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.