Sunday, January 20, 2019

Government Shutdown Expands: Moon Goes on Furlough Tonight

In the above table, you can see the timing of tonight total eclipse of the Moon for all the North American time zones. Click on the image to see it bigger.
Don't worry about the first and last rows of the table. Just focus on when the partial eclipse begins (when the Earth's shadow first starts to move across the Moon) and when the total eclipse begins (the Moon is full covered by shadow and turns red.)
Remember, if there are clouds, this eclipse last a long time, so come back out after a few minutes and see if you can glimpse the Moon. Often the Moon plays hide and seek with layers of clouds, and patience will pay off.
Full details of the eclipse and what to watch for are here:

Thanks to Sky & Telescope magazine for the table.  The composite photo below is by amateur astronomer and NASA educator, Brian Day.  Note the Earth's round shadow in the outer images and the coppery red color of the eclipsed Moon (the Earth's atmosphere bends red colors of light more effectively than other colors on to the shadowy face of the Moon.)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Heads Up: Total Eclipse of the Moon Sunday Evening January 20

On Sunday evening, January 20, there will be a nice total lunar eclipse (where the Earth’s shadow darkens the full moon) visible in all of North America. Since this is the day before Martin Luther King Day in the U.S., many students will not have school the next day and can stay up to enjoy the celestial spectacle with their families.
Total eclipses of the Moon are perfectly safe to look at, don’t require special viewing equipment, and are visible all over one hemisphere of planet Earth. Your eyes are just fine to see the show. This is quite a contrast with the total eclipses of the Sun, where viewing can sometimes hurt your eyes, special equipment is a big help, and the best show is only visible in a narrow path. As Bernie would say, the lunar eclipse is for the 99%, not just the special 1%!
A more detailed information sheet I put together (with questions and answers, plus the timing in each time zone of the continental U.S.) can be found at: 
Here is wishing you a cloudless evening, and a few hours thinking about the heavens and not the craziness in Washington.
[Our beautiful photo is by Conrad Jung of the Chabot Space and Science Center, 2007]