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]