Friday, March 02, 2007

Lunar Eclipse Saturday

Saturday night, March 3rd, is going to be an exciting night for looking up! That’s because for there will be a total lunar eclipse for the first time in about two and a half years. If the clouds cooperate, we as Georgians are in a prime location to view this celestial spectacle. The Moon will be completely engulfed by the Earth’s shadow just as the night falls.

To refresh your memory, a total lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon nearly line up perfectly in space, so that the Earth casts a shadow on the Moon. Unlike a solar eclipse, which can be very harmful to the human eye to watch, you can observe a lunar eclipse with no special protection or equipment. You can even pull out some binoculars or a telescope to make your viewing more enjoyable.

The penumbra, the outer part of the earth’s shadow, will only slightly shade the moon at first. But as the Moon begins to move into the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra, an obvious “bite” will be seen missing from the Moon. This is a sign that the partial eclipse is underway. This stage will begin around 5:30 pm tomorrow, and you may be able to observe it as the moon rises before the setting of the sun at 6:35 pm. The total eclipse will occur when the Moon is fully shaded by the umbra. The Moon will appear as an eerie, coppery red disk in the sky, as the scattered light from the edge of our atmosphere colors the lunar surface with a warm glow. This total eclipse will occur tomorrow night around 5:44 pm and end around 6:58 pm. The shadow will uncover the moon from about 6:58 pm to 8:12 pm, as a final conclusion to the eclipse.

You can find more information on the lunar eclipse tomorrow night at…

Happy viewing and have a great weekend!

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