Monday, October 6, 2014

Lunar Eclipse A-Comin'!

Just a quick warning that tomorrow (Tuesday) night, likely for you early Wednesday morning, the Moon will enter the Earth's shadow.  The result will be a lunar eclipse.  Unlike a partial solar eclipse, it is perfectly safe to observe, but you will likely have to set your alarm to observe it.  For us in Tucson, mid-eclipse is at 3:55am (MST - check local listings)!  Details are at the Sky and Telescope website

You might well ask what is so interesting when the moon slips into the shadow?  Won't it just blacken out?  Well, the short answer is yes, but the longer answer is that while the direct sunlight is blocked, the light from all the sunrises and sunsets around the world shine on the moon, so it turns a coppery-to-orange color as a result.  In my opinion it is well worth losing a few minutes sleep to get up and observe!  The picture at left shows the moon in eclipse last April, seen from our friend Margie's house down in Rocky Point, Mexico.

While I plan to get up and observe it, the weather isn't looking promising - we've got another hurricane bearing down on us, though weakened to just clouds and a good chance of rain.  Oh well, another lunar eclipse is coming down the pike on 4 April, 2015, though that one won't go as far into Earth's shadow, the total phase only lasting 5 minutes as opposed to tomorrow's 1 hour.  In any case, go observe it if you can!

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