Life on Campus / Winter 2016
Contemplating the Cosmos

Thousands of spectators witnessed a double celestial phenomenon on the St. George campus


Evening photo of a large crowd of spectators at King's College Circle

Photo by Lorne Bridgman

Thousands of spectators gathered on St. George front campus on Sept. 27 to witness a double celestial phenomenon – a total lunar eclipse and a supermoon. During this event, the sun, Earth and moon align perfectly when the moon is at its closest point to Earth. The moon appears larger and adopts a blood-red hue. Although cloudy weather made it impossible to see the moon, many watchers came prepared with cards, board games, a blanket and good company. While people were drawn by the rarity of the event – the only total lunar eclipse and supermoon combination visible from Toronto until 2033 – they were also drawn to the communal experience, says Michael Reid, lecturer and public outreach co-ordinator at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Despite the moon no-show, spectators stayed and asked U of T professors questions about the Big Bang and our place in the cosmos. “The event ignited a sense of wonder that lasts way longer than any eclipse,” says Roberto Abraham, an astronomy professor. “People’s curiosity can range from purely aesthetic to deeply philosophical, such as contemplating the ultimate origin of the universe.”


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