General · 29th January 2018
The Weather Channel
This is one event that's worth getting up extra early for!
The Full Moon on the night of January 30-31 is not only a supermoon, the second largest and second brightest Full Moon of 2018, and some also call it a Blue Moon, since it's the 2nd Full Moon in the month of January (February has no Full Moon this year).
Around Vancouver, the eclipse begins at 2:51 am, peaks at 5:29 am, and ends at 7:51 am.
The original definition of a Blue Moon is "the third Full Moon in a season with four Full Moons." Typically, seasons have three Full Moons, but once in a while, when the Full Moons fall around the 18th to the 22nd of the month, you can have four. Thus, technically, the next true Blue Moon will be on May 18, 2019, since that will be the third Full Moon of the four Full Moons of spring that year (March 21, April 19, May 18 and June 17).
Using Blue Moon to describe the second Full Moon in a calendar month is based on a mistake, but is still a popular definition. It's the same as the term "supermoon", which has caught on to describe a Full Moon or New Moon that happens close to lunar perigee, despite it being a fairly arbitrary astrological term.
Regardless of how you define this particular Full Moon, much of Canada will get to see a Total Lunar Eclipse in the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 31, as the Moon slips through Earth's shadow.
Nova Scotia and Newfoundland won't see this eclipse, because the Moon will have set just before it slips into Earth's penumbral shadow. In New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Labrador, the Moon will be seen to dim slightly before it sets, as residents of those regions catch the Moon dipping into Earth's penumbra. In Quebec and southern/eastern Ontario, a partial lunar eclipse will be visible, as the Moon makes it only part way into the red umbra before it is lost to view beyond the horizon.
From northwestern Ontario and up to Nunavut, all the way west to the coast of British Columbia and up into the Yukon, a total lunar eclipse will visible in the predawn hours. The farther west the viewer is, the more of the eclipse they will be able to see. For example, in Thunder Bay, viewers will see the full blood red Moon for all of six minutes before it slips below the horizon, while in Vancouver, the entire eclipse will be visible, from beginning to end.
King Tides on both coasts
In the days following this supermoon eclipse, the east and west coasts of Canada and the United States should be prepared to see some extra high tides - possibly the highest of the year, also known as the King Tides.
King Tides, also known as perigean spring tides, happen when the Moon is near or at perigee, due to the gravitational pulls of the Moon and the Sun lining up very closely. When lunar perigee happens very close to when the Earth is at perihelion (its closest point to the Sun), these forces add together at their near-strongest, and it produces exceptionally high tides.
British Columbia has been going through this since December, due to a trio of supermoons happening during northern winter, when Earth passes through its closest point to the Sun. Locations along the lower mainland should be mindful of coastal areas for the rest of this week, especially if any storms move in off the ocean.
According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, high tides in the Vancouver area could reach up to 5 metres, which is 20 centimetres higher than they were at this time last year, when the Moon was closer to its average distance from Earth.
In the east, especially the Bay of Fundy, they will see a similar effect. The forecast for high tides at Digby, Nova Scotia, for example, shows that they could reach up to 9.1 metres in the days ahead, which is nearly a full metre higher than they at were this time, last year.